cropped IMG 1293




Part 1:













Originally published by the Folklore Society Library, London


ISBN 1 871903 20 3

With cover and Table of Contents typesetting by Steve Roud, and main text typesetting by Craig Fees





This edition/version scanned and OCRed from the original text, with minor corrections and additions by Craig Fees, and with apologies for any further mistakes thrown up by the scanning/OCRing process










Chronology of the English Dialect Survey


Part 1: English Dialect Survey – Historical

Part 2: English Dialect Survey – Descriptive

The Questionnaire

Fieldwork and Fieldworkers

Part 3: “Yes, I think that’s adventure” – Some experiences of fieldwork in England, 1949-1960

Part 4: Harold Orton: A Celebration





Appendix 1: A Mistake in dating; or, When did the English Dialect Survey really begin?

Appendix 2: Whose Idea was it? Or, Who really shouldered the chief burden of the Survey?













Part 1:







This is the first of three studies which are being devoted to the history of the Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies at the University of Leeds. From 1964 to 1984 this was


the major academic centre for the study of regional speech and folklore, with an extensive programme of teaching and research at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level. Nor were its activities confined to British materials; it soon developed an international reputation for the training of dialectologists and folklorists, including many from overseas. The Institute also initiated an ambitious publication programme, including the editing of material from the SED [Survey of English Dialects] - a task which is still continuing. Above all, the Institute played a leading role in the revalidation of folklore in higher education as a subject in its own right. Over the years it built up the first extensive post-war archive of data on the dialects and traditions of England, including numerous monographs and dissertations which constitute an enduring legacy for future generations.1


The editors of these studies were both students in the Institute, taking their PhD.'s - on the Folk Life side - in 1987 and 1988. The second was the last PhD. awarded by the Institute. It closed in 1984, a victim of the massive cuts in higher education introduced in the 1980s, which came on top of a decade of sustained underfunding of the dialect and folk life programme.

Our initial aim was to produce a festschrift in celebration of the Institute and its history. But as we began to study that history our involvement deepened, and the project grew.

There was, for example, its immediate predecessor, the (Yorkshire) Folk Life Survey. The Folk Life Survey, inaugurated in 1960, was "The most significant step forward in the re-establishment of folklore as an academic discipline in England..." 2 There exists no history of this, the first department of folk life studies within an English university (the term "folk life studies" having been preferred over "ethnography" because the department was being set up within a School of English3).

In setting out to compile such a history we soon discovered that the Folk Life Survey was to a great extent the brainchild of Professor Harold Orton, and this took us back to the other root of which the Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies was the flower. The Institute was the product of a merger between the Folk Life Survey and the English Dialect Survey - a project Professor Orton founded at the University of Leeds in the late 1940s in collaboration with Professor Eugen Dieth of the University of Zurich.

Using a specially formulated Questionnaire, the English Dialect Survey had begun, in October 1950, the systematic collection of dialect information from 313 sites in England and the Isle of Man. The Questionnaire required a highly trained fieldworker using phonetic notation some twenty hours or more to complete, using one or more rigorously selected informants in each location. These informants, mainly in medium-sized rural villages, were, for the most part, elderly men with little or no formal education who had been born in the village and never left it (apart from war service, perhaps); whose parents were locals, whose wives were locals, and who had worked in agriculture all or most of their lives. They had to have good teeth, good hearing, good sight, and be in sufficiently good health to sustain the enquiry. One questionnaire was completed in each of the 313 locations, and using 9 fieldworkers and two contributors trained at Leeds this took over a decade (by which time Eugen Dieth was dead). In 1953 the systematic tape-recording of the best informant from each location was begun, and was carried on until all the sites were represented.

The survey carried out in this way was the first and remains "the fullest, systematically-collected body of dialect material for all the English regions...".4 Indeed, the English Dialect Survey "is the only large-scale, systematic, nationwide Survey of its kind in this country" which "provides a massive and unique database for the study of rural speech and lifestyles..." 5

Having come this far in our research, the project expanded. Despite the fact that Orton and Dieth's English Dialect Survey is a landmark in the study of English regional and traditional culture, the most important single study of English dialect since A.J. Ellis' "vast work"6 On Early English Pronunciation Part V (1889) and Joseph Wright's English Dialect Dictionary (1898-1905), there are no full-scale historical studies of it, and relatively few published reminiscences or descriptive articles. By going into original source material housed in the Orton Room at the University of Leeds we soon discovered that such published material as exists very often contains factual errors, and sometimes more important historical or interpretative errors as well.

As it did not make sense to celebrate that which has no history, we sat down to compile a history of the English Dialect Survey ourselves. Being folklorists, we approached the Survey not only as a specific dialectological investigation, but also as a particular folk community centred on Harold Orton and Leeds, which had a profound influence on the tradition and culture of the subsequent Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies.

The fact that it was from Leeds that such a national, systematic survey of English dialect was carried out had much to do with the University's longstanding commitment to regional studies, as demonstrated by the established nature of dialect study at Leeds. Eugen Dieth, in his important 1946 paper "A New Survey of English Dialects", pointedly remarked that "the only university chair in Great Britain that seems to have a lively contact with the vernacular speech of the neighbourhood is in the University of Leeds. It was once held by F.W. Moorman, EV. Gordon, Bruce Dickins, all friends of the Yorkshire Dialect Society, and is now occupied by Harold Orton, a sworn dialectologist."7

F.W. Moorman was lecturer in charge of the English programme at Yorkshire College before it was granted university status as the University of Leeds in 1904, and he was appointed Professor of English in 1912. In the same year, foreshadowing a later appeal by Harold Orton, he persuaded the Council of the University of Leeds to buy a dictaphone "in order to record and preserve specimens of dialect speech...


The wax cylinders, bearing the records engraved upon them, will therefore be carefully stored away in boxes in a room of equable temperature in the University of Leeds, and one of the most valuable results of this collection of records of dialect speech will be the comparison which it will be possible to make in the future between the dialect speech of a particular Yorkshire village in 1912 and, say, 1962. 8


1962, fifty years after Moorman launched his dialect-collection project, was the year in which, co-incidentally, Harold Orton began publishing the findings of the English Dialect Survey in a publication programme he called the Survey of English Dialects.

Moorman often used his bicycle, dictaphone strapped to it, to take field recordings in Yorkshire villages (none of the recordings, apparently, survive 9). Orton and his researchers must often have thought of him as they went about the business of the English Dialect Survey. They, too, were provided with their equipment largely through the generosity of the University of Leeds, which began its support for Orton and his work when it was still the Survey of the Dialects of the Northern Counties of England. In the post-war world in which Orton began the Survey, the University was still very much a regional one, with a strong sense of responsibility to the North from which most of its students were drawn.10

This, of course, has changed. The University has grown, and it now draws its students from all over England and from the rest of the world - one of the editors, for example, came to the Institute from London, the other from California.

This change from a regional to a cosmopolitan University coincided with a broad change in scholarship generally. The kind of research into dialectology which Orton was conducting from Leeds, with its roots in the great Survey projects of the 19th century and its focus on dialect as a route to the study of the history of the language, began to come under fire from a new sociological dialectology, which began to call itself sociolinguistics. The relevance, the archaism, the methodology and the philosophy of studies such as the English Dialect Survey came to be challenged, and their value discounted. 11

Many of the mistakes in published discussions of the English Dialect Survey stem from the consequent neglect of close study either of the Survey or its history, whether seen as an achievement or as a body of data. Wolfgang Viereck, the eminent German dialectologist, has recently written:


The criticism that the Survey of English Dialects (SED) has received has not always been constructive and fair. One should not forget the magnitude of the task and the difficult post-war years when the SED fieldwork was begun. One should also not criticise the SED for not being able to answer questions that it never set out to answer. Some modern sociolinguists tend to do this, but even they cannot afford to neglect its data.


The SED is a survey carried out on traditional dialectological lines, and traditional dialectology is both an applied discipline and a historically oriented one. Within this framework, set by the discipline itself, the SED is of utmost value. This can best be substantiated by the extent to which the SED materials have been found useful in serious scholarship worldwide.


For my SED-based Computer Developed Linguistic Atlas of England that is to be published shortly by Niemeyer in Tubingen, I compiled a bibliography listing one hundred and fifty publications alone that deal with the discussion, presentation and interpretation of the SED data in some detail and in many ways, both diachronically and synchronically. In view of the fact that the SED data have been available - in twelve substantial volumes of Basic Material - for only twenty years, this is a result of which Professor Orton could rightly be proud. Moreover, these Basic Material volumes have sold so well that they are already out of print and no longer obtainable as a complete set. Far more than mere words these facts attest to the significance of the SED, the outstanding role it plays in English dialectology and - not least - to the importance of the Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies from which it emerged. 12



Nor can such criticism pay adequate tribute to Orton himself, of whom Viereck said some years ago "Without his indefatigable efforts dialectological research in England would no doubt still be in its infancy". 13

When Orton took up his professorship at Leeds in 1946 there were still only 28 monographs on particular English dialects, only eight of which had been written by English scholars, one of them being by himself. 14 No grammar of an individual Yorkshire dialect had been published since 1915,15 for example, and no single dialect in the Midlands had been investigated. 16 The point he made in 1929 - that no English college or university had yet established a school of dialectology, producing trained, professional dialectologists - remained true.17

When he died thirty years later his students at Leeds had produced well over a hundred monographs on specific English dialects. 18 The English Dialect Survey, drawing its fieldworkers mainly from his students, had made detailed scientific investigations of the dialect in every part of the country, at 12 to 15 mile intervals, producing data that has been used by everyone from contemporary sociolinguists to historians of the English language. His students had gone on to found and carry out numerous other surveys, local and national, urban and rural, and to take up major positions in dialectological research in England and abroad.19 He had seen to the founding of the first department of Folk Life Studies in an English university, and he had been instrumental in the creation of the Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies. He had generated not only a school - a tradition - of dialectology, but had also played a key role in the creation of a school of folk life studies. Small wonder, then, that we have chosen in this first part of our study on Dialect and Folk Life Studies at Leeds to concentrate on the English Dialect Survey with a special reference to Harold Orton.


Plan of the Study


As no history of the English Dialect Survey exists, and as there is so much mistaken information abroad, in Part 1 we have given a brief but thorough introduction to the main dates and events. In Part 2 we take a more descriptive approach to the elements which made up the Survey, overlapping to some extent with the material in Part 1, but concerned more with filling in the detail of the actual workings of the Survey. In Part 3 there is a series of fieldwork narratives, indulging our passion as folklorists for narrative in its own right, both as a phenomenon and as a source of information. This is primary source material, a sharing of the experience which was and which defined the culture of the English Dialect Survey. In Part 4 we have what is, in effect, a celebration of Harold Orton in the words and memories of some of those who met, worked with or studied under him. This is also primary source material, for the much needed biography of Orton and the full-scale study of the English Dialect Survey.

Some of the mistakes or misinterpretations which have appeared in various publications over the years are addressed and corrected (some explicitly, some not) in the course of the first two essays. Two topics, however, have been given a slightly longer treatment in the Appendices - the early dating and mis-dating of the Survey, in Appendix 1; and the question of who bore chief responsibility for the Survey in Appendix 2.

We see this work very much as introductory and exploratory We hope that it may provide the foundation for a more thoroughgoing study, one which can look at the record more closely and widely. It would be useful, for example, to have an in-depth discussion of the nature of the personal and professional relationship of Orton and Dieth; of the culture and traditions of the English Dialect Survey; of the place of the English Dialect Survey in relation to contemporary investigations of traditional British culture such as the Linguistic Survey of Scotland, the BBC's Folklore and Dialect Scheme, or the University of London's English Folklore Survey. One which could look at Orton's years in Uppsala, which could analyse his Armstrong College dialect programme, or which would address questions such as "What is the future of the tradition of fieldwork and scholarship built up by the English Dialect Survey now that its successor, the Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies, has closed?"

In putting this brief study together we have been as conscientious as possible. If we have made mistakes or if there are omissions, either as folklorists dealing with dialectology, or as historians dealing with facts, we would be grateful to hear of it.

"Dialect and Folk Life Studies at Leeds 1946-1984: 11" will deal with the (Yorkshire) Folk Life Survey. "Dialect and Folk Life Studies at Leeds 1946-1984: III", needless to say, will be a history and celebration of the Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies.


- Craig Fees and Roy Judge







To the Survey Informants

"We found the most inspiring wealth, not only of spoken dialect but of different types of people. Out in the country, we realized that we were treading on different ground altogether from that in the towns. Whether we talked to the harsh Lancashire shrimper on the West coast or a rough village blacksmith inland, a talkative Devon farmer in his heavily-laden orchards or a quieter Dales stonemason on the bleak moors, a weather-beaten Cumbrian shepherd on the hills or an elderly housewife in her parlour - it made no essential difference. These folk, wherever they lived and whatever walks of life they came from, had one thing in common: They had arrived at a simple philosophy of life through hard work and humble living. Lack of schooling was made up through experience - a hard master! Yet there was scarcely one amongst these people who grumbled about the social conditions of the old days. "Hard work never killed anyone" was one of their favourite sayings and, judging from their health and good looks, they were right. They almost bubbled over when they dug into the memories of days gone by. There was a refreshing frankness and warm hospitality about them."

  • Wright and Rohrer 1968, pp. 11-12






There are a great many acknowledgements to be made, and a great variety of debts to repay. There are all the many people who responded to our newspaper request for information about Harold Orton and the English Dialect Survey. There are the former students and researchers, friends and colleagues of Orton and the English Dialect Survey who have shared thoughts and experiences, some of whom are represented in Part 3, some in Part 4. More are represented in footnotes. For all of you, named and unnamed, we have the greatest thanks.


In practical terms, the research would not have been possible at all without a great deal of help from a number of people at the University of Leeds. Miss Audrey C. Stead, Senior Administrative Assistant in the School of English, deserves a particularly warm mention for a great deal of generous help and consideration. Peter Meredith was characteristically kind and helpful, as was Mrs. J. Mary D. Forster of the University Archives, who drew our attention to some very important material which would otherwise have slipped our notice. Tom Shippey, who has borne much of the responsibility for the Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies archives and administration since the Institute's closure deserves an especial mention, and the thanks of everyone who cares about the traditional culture of England and its documentation. The burden of a closed department which was once so active, at a time of heavy cuts in University funding, cannot be underestimated.


In the two and a half years that it has taken us to reach this stage in our research we have undoubtedly forgotten to thank many, and we apologise. We would like to thank our colleagues in the British Folk Studies Forum who read an earlier version of this study, and who were typically generous in their advice: Gordon Ashman, Gillian Bennett, Julia Bishop, Marion Bowman, Steve Roud, Anne Rowbottom, Cindy Sughrue. We have also been particularly fortunate in having a late draft read by Stanley Ellis, Peter Wright, and John Widdowson, whose close association with the English Dialect Survey and the Survey of English Dialects, Harold Orton, and the study of English dialect generally have led to a number of important corrections, emendations, and additions. The study as it stands owes immeasurably to their interest and care.


There is no way sufficiently to thank the silent editors, our wives; we are particularly grateful to Fiona Fees for her patient proofreading and interminable checking of footnotes and citations.


Any mistakes and failings, of course, remain the responsibility of the editors.



Chronology of the English Dialect Survey


1945 July 21: Eugen Dieth's letter to Harold Orton: "I hear the idea of a linguistic atlas of England etc. has not been given up..."


1946 May 11: Harold Orton's talk to the Yorkshire Dialect Society: "the time is ripe for one more, and possibly the last, coordinated large-scale investigation of all the important English dialects."


Eugen Dieth's paper in Essays and Studies: "A New Survey of English Dialects".


July 2: Harold Orton co-opted onto the Philological Society's dialect-survey sub-committee.


August 23/24-September 2: Harold Orton and Eugen Dieth meet in Sheffield, to discuss their collaboration on the Survey for the first time.


September: Harold Orton carries out exploratory investigations of dialect in Derbyshire and Yorkshire.


October: Harold Orton takes up position as Professor of English Language and Medieval English Literature at the University of Leeds.


December 6: Harold Orton and Eugen Dieth present the case for a Linguistic Atlas of England to the Philological Society. Planning Committee set up, to which Orton is appointed.


1947 March: Philological Society scheme for a limited preliminary survey presented. Harold Orton appointed a Director, with responsibility for the Northern Counties of England. Eugen Dieth excluded.


June: University of Leeds grants Orton £200 "for expenditure on an investigation into local dialects."


August 4: Harold Orton and Eugen Dieth begin work on the First Version of the Questionnaire, in the basement of the Brotherton Library.


October: John Lloyd Bailes begins field tests of First Version of the Questionnaire in Durham.


1948 Early Summer: John Lloyd Bailes completes thesis "A Study of the Living Durham Dialect: A Contribution to an English Linguistic Atlas".


October: Department of English Language and Literature restructured into 1) The Department of English Literature, under Professor Dobree, and 2) The Department of English Language and Medieval English Literature, under Professor Orton. Also: Department of Phonetics established under P.A.D. MacCarthy.


1949 July 2: Peter Wright begins work as first Research Assistant for the English Dialect Survey, housed at 1 Virginia Road (since demolished).


August/September: Harold Orton, Eugen Dieth, Peter Wright and Fritz Rohrer conduct tests of Version 2 of the Questionnaire in six different English Counties. Version 3 ready by October.


Winter: Peter Wright selects 300 potential Survey sites.


1950 February 10: Eugen Dieth appointed a Director of the English Dialect Survey.


May: First "dialect car" - Vauxhall 14 - purchased by University.


Early Summer: Peter Wright conducts tests of Version 3 of the Questionnaire in Cumberland, Westmorland, Northumberland and North Yorkshire.


October: Version 4 of the Questionnaire ready.


October 19: Peter Wright and Harold Orton take first official recordings for the English Dialect Survey in Spofforth, Yorkshire West Riding.


1951 June: Stanley Ellis begins fieldwork in Lincolnshire for M.A.


August: Version 5 of the Questionnaire sent to the printers.


1952 January: "A Questionnaire for a Linguistic Atlas of England" published.


February: First experimental tape-recordings of entire Questionnaire. Unsatisfactory/too expensive.


June: Stanley Ellis takes over from Peter Wright as Research Assistant.


1953 January: Philological Society declares formal responsibility for English Dialect Survey at end.


Late Spring: Stanley Ellis marries and acquires caravan from which to conduct fieldwork.


July: Satisfactory tape-recorder acquired. Decision taken to make a tape recording at each location.


September: Peter Gibson begins fieldwork for Survey.


1954 January: Peter Gibson concludes fieldwork.


June: Leverhulme Research Grant: Donald Sykes begins fieldwork for Survey.


1955 Summer: Fieldwork for Northern Counties complete. Orton and Dieth divide tasks - Orton to work on Basic Materials, Dieth to begin work on maps.


Second Leverhulme Grant enables Donald Sykes to continue fieldwork.


September: John T. Wright begins fieldwork for Survey.

Averil Playford begins fieldwork for Survey.


December: Donald Sykes concludes fieldwork.


1956 May 24: Eugen Dieth dies of stroke in sleep.


Spring: Averil Playford concludes fieldwork.


July: John T Wright concludes fieldwork.


September: W. Nelson Francis begins fieldwork for Survey.


1957 August: W. Nelson Francis concludes fieldwork.


October: Stanley Ellis joins staff of Department of English.


1958 October: M.V. Barry begins fieldwork for Survey.

H.E. Kylstra begins year's work as British Council Senior Scholar studying field-recordings.


1959 English Dialect Survey moves premises to 1st stage of the Arts Building, University Road.

Harold Orton's early files inadvertently destroyed.


October: H.E. Kylstra appointed Temporary Research Fellow in English dialectology: begins helping Orton with editorial tasks.


November: "Proposals for the Inception and Development of Folklore Studies Within the School of English in the University of Leeds" prepared by Harold Orton and A. Norman Jeffares.


  1. Barry concludes fieldwork.


1960 October: Folk Life Survey inaugurated.

H.N. Berntsen begins fieldwork for the Dialect Survey.


1961 August: Martyn Wakelin begins as first official Editorial Assistant on Survey of English Dialects.


October: H.N. Berntsen concludes fieldwork. Main fieldwork for Dialect Survey formally closed.


November: Stanley Ellis seconded to Dialect Survey for three years.


1962 Harold Orton's Survey of English Dialects.(A). Introduction published.


1963 June 11: "Proposal for the Establishment of a Research Centre for the Study of Dialectal English" (Precursor to proposal for Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies) put forward by Harold Orton.


October 21: "Proposals for a Leeds University Institute of Dialect and Folklife Studies" submitted.


October 31. Northern Volumes of Basic Material published.


1964 September 30: Harold Orton officially retires.


October 1: Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies opens under Stewart Sanderson as Director.





The English Dialect Survey: Historical


Orton and Dieth: A Private Undertaking


Harold Orton and Eugen Dieth first met in about 1932, the year in which Dieth's "excellent monograph", A Grammar of the Buchan Dialect (Aberdeenshire) (Dieth 1932), appeared.1 Orton's own The Phonology of a South Durham Dialect (Orton 1933) was published in the following year.

Dieth was the older of the two, having been born in 1893, Orton in 1898.2 Dieth was also academically senior, having been professor of English at Zurich University (as well as a member of the editorial staff of the Swiss-German Dialect Dictionary) since 1927, before which he had been five years at Aberdeen University as a lecturer in German.

Orton began his academic career as lektor in English at Uppsala University in 1924. In 1928 he moved to Armstrong College, Newcastle, where he took up a position as lecturer in English and immediately instituted the Armstrong Survey of Northumberland Dialects. This was, in effect, a precursor of the later English Dialect Survey; its aim, stated briefly, was "the classification of the local varieties of dialect, the study of their history, and the collection of a large number of gramophone records illustrating the different varieties of speech."3

Their mutual interest in English dialect, at a time when there were few scientific monographs on the subject and no school of English dialectology in Britain, led inevitably to their meeting and then to a collaboration in which Orton looked after a number of Dieth's students as they conducted fieldwork in Britain.4 As late as August 1939, on the edge of the war, Dieth was Orton's houseguest in Sheffield, where the latter was about to take up a new appointment as lecturer in charge of English Language at the University.5 It seems almost certain that they would have discussed the prospects for a survey of English dialects in Britain: Orton had been appointed to a committee to prepare a memorandum on a linguistic atlas of the British Isles at the Second International Congress of Phonetic Sciences in London in the summer of 1935 (a Congress which Deith attended),6 and it was a letter from Orton dated May 14, 1940 to which Dieth was replying in his of 21, July 1945.

Dieth's letter of 21 July 1945 is generally taken as the starting point of Orton's and Dieth's collaboration on what later became the English Dialect Survey. In it Dieth says "I hear the idea of a linguistic atlas of England etc. has not been given up" and asks "Will you tell me what steps you have taken so far towards launching the scheme?"8 How far Orton's plans had developed is not clear and may never be known, but in the course of letters over the following months the groundwork was laid for a visit by Dieth in the summer of 1946 and for a testing of the academic and popular waters.9 Thus Orton delivered a paper to the Yorkshire Dialect Society on May 11, 1946, in which he stated "the time is ripe for one more, and possibly the last, coordinated large-scale investigation of all the important English dialects"; 10 and during the course of the same year Dieth published "A New Survey of English Dialects" in Essays and Studies in which he stated "This, of course, means a stupendous national task, involving most careful preparation and long years of co-operative labour." 11

Dieth had become Chairman of the Council of Zurich University's Dialect-Records Archive in 1934, and in 1935 had "founded and directed the well-equipped Phonetics Laboratory in the university"; 12 in 1947 he would be appointed to an established professorship in English Philology, Old Norse and General Phonetics. Orton spent 1942-1945 away from the University of Sheffield on wartime secondment to the British Council in London, first as Deputy Education Director, then as Acting Education Director. He had spent very little time on dialectology during the war,13 and when they met at his home in Sheffield at the end of August 1946 he was preparing to take up a new appointment as Professor of English Language and Medieval English Literature at the University of Leeds.

In a very full nine or ten days they discussed plans for the "new undertaking". 14 They took the decision to follow many of the lines of investigation established by the inter-war Linguistic Atlas of New England, which Orton had described in some detail in his earlier talk to the Yorkshire Dialect Society: This would involve a specially devised questionnaire administered directly - not by post or proxy - by full-time and highly-trained experts.15 They agreed that the fieldworker would also spend a period of time in casual conversation on a subject the informant knew well, on the premise that the informant would be more likely to use familiar dialect forms when fully engaged in a relaxed and familiar discussion. They also agreed that ideally recordings would be made by machine (tape or gramophone), but that in the reality of the immediate post-war period this was not feasible. Because of this each fieldworker would be trained to record the informant's responses manually in phonetic notation (the system adopted was that approved by the International Phonetic Association (IPA) in 1951).16

First, though, they decided to carry out an exploratory investigation to make sure that "the 6 years of war and mixing of peoples"17 had left local dialect sufficiently intact to make an historically and geographically-oriented survey worthwhile. For these purposes they decided to concentrate on the vocabulary of farming, and though "considerably hampered" by his move to Leeds University, Orton carried out these tests in Tideswell and Crich in Derbyshire, in Sheffield, and at Drax near Selby in Yorkshire during September. He reported that these "proved abundantly remunerative and confirmed an opinion to which I had been led by my work on Northumbrian dialects between the Wars, namely that there was no lack of genuine dialectal material for a fieldworker to record."18

Thus, the only truly formidable problem at this stage was that "we had no funds to support our work, and no immediate prospects of getting any." 19 But as Orton made clear some years later, money was the least of their priorities.20 Once they had decided on the nature and details of the proposed investigation their commitment was such that the work would go ahead and the funds to support it would be found somehow.

This is where the Philological Society came in.



The Philological Society Comes in - And Goes Out Again


For a short period from the summer of 1946 it appeared as if the Philological Society of London might have a major role to play in the English Dialect Survey - indeed, would be the much-needed vehicle through which a national dialect survey could be financed and organised. In 1946 and 1947 Orton and Dieth devoted a considerable amount of time and energy to the Society with this expectation, and for several years afterwards Orton was careful to link the Society with the survey work he and Dieth undertook through Leeds. This episode is now effectively forgotten, and in retrospect appears to have been a sort of digression. But it was a dangerous one, in the sense that for a brief period it posed a real threat to Orton's and Dieth's relationship. It was also an important one, because it proved to be the vehicle through which Leeds became the home of the English Dialect Survey.

The Philological Society came into the picture when, on June 26, 1946 (a month after the address to the Yorkshire Dialect Society in which Orton announced the need for such a survey), its Secretary, L.R. Palmer of King's College, London, wrote to Orton. He invited him to attend a meeting of the Society's dialect-survey sub-committee on July 2, saying "I expect you will have heard that the Philological Society is considering the organisation of a survey of the English dialects."21 Orton attended, was co-opted, and committed himself to working towards an English dialect survey within the Philological Society framework. 22

The subcommittee made it clear at this meeting that the Society had neither the money nor the technical resources to carry out such a survey; rather, it envisioned initiating and coordinating a collaborative effort among a variety of appropriate learned bodies. To this end, the subcommittee agreed to recommend that the Council of the Society establish a Planning Committee, which would formulate a scheme for the survey and then call a conference of interested organisations. 23

By this time Orton and Dieth had been working for the better part of a year on the problems involved in compiling a linguistic atlas of English dialects, and no one was better placed to present the case for a survey of English dialects to the Philological Society. They were allowed the Society's meeting of December 6, 1947 to make it. They roughed out the scheme for their presentation during August, and seem to have spent the week before the meeting polishing it. 24

Ominously, perhaps, they found it difficult to gauge the impact of their talk. Several key members of the Society, who might have been expected to serve on the proposed Planning Committee, were absent. During the course of their presentation about half the audience of forty left. At the end of the meeting, the rest of the members rapidly dispersed.25

A month later Orton wrote that "the Planning Committee seems to have been constituted at the meeting of the Council of December 6th, but I have heard nothing definite yet about its formation"26 - this despite the fact that he had been appointed to it.27 He talked of behind-the-scenes wrangling28, subsequently writing that "The Phil. Soc. seem to me to be waffling badly and some of its members are obviously very confused as to the requirements of English philology." 29 At a meeting at the end of January he felt obliged to make "a very brief speech" again putting the proposal for a Linguistic Atlas. He left the meeting "feeling disappointed and frustrated, and extremely sceptical about either the intentions or the competence of the members."30

And then, at the end of March, the Planning Committee presented their scheme for the survey. Orton, a key member of the Committee, had been unable to attend either of the Committee's two meetings and was both taken by surprise and unhappy with the form the scheme took. 31 It was, in the first place, to be only a limited investigation "in a limited number of selected areas with a limited questionnaire" to be carried out over two years by three Directors in their own areas. Orton was invited to be one of these Directors, "allotted a Research Assistant at £500 per annum and an expense allowance of £200 per annum", and to have responsibility for the North and North Midlands of England. Once the limited sample was completed, it would then become an editorial exercise, and Orton was invited to become one of the three Editors who would publish the results in a handbook, which would also include "a history of the subject, a critique of methodology, directions to field workers, a questionnaire and model maps." All of this was "intended merely to be a trial flight preparatory to the grand scheme which will take a much longer time and be on a larger scale. "32

To Orton, for whom time was of the essence, the delay of the "grand scheme" was difficult to understand. In accepting his appointment he said so, stating "I should have preferred to have gone straight for the chief goal." He also felt moved to point out "that my friend Dieth is being excluded from the work up to the present" and that he was "grievously disappointed" over this and "just a little bewildered." 33

To Dieth he tried to explain the exclusion as a product of Little Englandism:


You can imagine that an English Society wish to carry out their objects - especially one so intimate as the Investigation of Dialectal English - without the help of foreign collaboration. The Americans were, as you know, anxious to come in, but I believe they have been handed off .34


This would have been a sore point to both of them, as they had spent part of their precious time together in August 1946 drafting a letter to Hans Kurath on behalf of the Philological Society precisely to bring the Americans into the inevitably expensive undertaking.35

But the exclusion of Dieth was an entirely different matter. Here was the man with whom Orton had worked to convince the Philological Society to take on the Survey. Here was a man who was at the top of the field in his own country and who knew more about English dialect and the problems of its collection than almost anyone in England. Not only that, but having already been disappointed following their December presentation that "some definite action was not immediately contemplated", Dieth was reading in Orton's letter of a scheme which gave no evidence of the speed and urgency the rapidly deteriorating dialect situation required. How could Orton have agreed to go along with this, to have accepted such an appointment on such conditions in such a scheme? Would he think, as Orton feared, that Orton had “played a shady trick" on Dieth in agreeing to become a Director of the Survey?37

It was a worrying time, and before accepting the appointments he laid the dilemma before selected friends. 38 Having decided to accept, Orton took great pains to express his reservations in his letter of acceptance to the Philological Society, a copy of which he sent to Dieth. With Dieth he carefully shared both the dilemma and the advice he had received, which ultimately came down to the stark reality: "If I had declined to collaborate, this University would no doubt have been left out of account in any such dialectal investigation." 39 Unsatisfactory as it all was, as a part of the team there was at least the opportunity to influence the direction of the work. There might also be the possibility to step in should the plan fail, and if Orton were involved he could no doubt insure that Dieth was brought in. 40

Orton must have looked back on this episode and its expense of emotion and energy, not to mention money and time, with irony, if not anger and regret. For although, through Orton, Dieth was eventually made one of the Directors of the Survey (in 1950),41 and as late as 1952 Orton was still reporting the progress of his work to the Committee of Directors of the Philological Society's Dialect Survey,42 the Society itself never managed to raise any funds for the undertaking. By the March 9, 1952 meeting of the sub-committee it was clear that the Society could no longer claim to have any financial, organisational or decision-making role in a national dialect survey, and that at best its function was "liaison and coordination" between the Linguistic Survey of Scotland, which was being carried out from Edinburgh University, the survey being directed from the University of Leeds, and any other university project which might still emerge.43 No other university came forward to commit itself to the Survey, and the Philological Society effectively lost even this role; in January 1953 it recognised this and "declared the Society's formal responsibility to be ended" 44

From the time he was co-opted onto the Philological Society's dialect-survey subcommittee in July 1946 to January 1947 Orton seems to have believed in and been fully committed to the Society as the vehicle through which the dialect survey would be conducted. As late as the turmoil in March, when the Survey scheme was presented, he took it for granted that the Society was, in effect, the only game in town, the one to which he would have to belong if he was going to have any role at all. By June, however, in a letter to the authorities of Leeds University he explained


that the Philological Society of London have recently appointed me a Co-Director of the Exploratory Dialectal Investigation that they propose to initiate, but cannot embark upon for the present owing to lack of money. .. If the Philological Society ultimately succeed in obtaining sufficient money to carry out their scheme, this proposed investigation of mine would probably be linked with it. 34


Though acknowledging it, he was thereafter careful to draw a clear distinction between the Society's project and his own. In late 1949, for example, in discussing a proposed broadcast on "A New Survey of English Dialects" with the BBC, Orton made it clear that "The Survey has a twofold origin. There was, in the first place [emphasis added], a survey instituted by Leeds University..."


The second point of origin was the Philological Society (HQ in London) which also wished to undertake a Dialect Survey. The Leeds University Survey was incorporated in this larger work and is, indeed, the most vital part of it.46


In a talk to the Lancashire Dialect Society in February 1952 he said "Enough has already been said perhaps to show that, so far as Leeds is concerned [emphasis added], work upon a Survey aiming at the compilation of a Linguistic Atlas of English Dialect is now well under way."47 Before very long, any provisional reference to any undertaking apart from that at Leeds disappeared altogether.

Despite its disappearance from the accounts of the English Dialect Survey, the episode with the Philological Society may be looked at as playing a crucial if unpredictable role in Leeds becoming the administrative and organisational centre of the English Dialect Survey. The Philological Society staked an international claim to such a survey. The University of Leeds gave its support through its backing of Orton's initial Survey of the Dialects of the Northern Counties of England, as discussed below. No other university entered the lists, Orton and Dieth went systematically ahead with their work, the Philological Society receded from the national survey it had projected, and the University of Leeds was thereby left alone and by default as its natural and undisputed heir. It was in this quiet and unexpected way that the University of Leeds became the sponsor of the English Dialect Survey.



The (Virtually) Forgotten Fieldworker


Curiously enough, it was not only the Philological Society which more or less disappeared from later accounts of the history of the English Dialect Survey, but Orton's first fieldworker as well. This was John Lloyd Bailes, who in 1947-48 tested the first version of the questionnaire in Durham.

His research was financed by the University of Leeds, which granted Orton £200 in June, 1947, "in aid of an investigation into local dialectal speech that I intend to start in August," and which "will consist of a survey of Northern dialect aiming at the compilation of a Linguistic Atlas of the Northern Counties of England"; and by a Post-graduate scholarship.48 Bailes was not paid to carry out the research, so he was not a research assistant, but his expenses were met from the newly created dialect fund.

The significance of this is that when Orton first approached Bailes, in April 1947, it was just after he had decided to accept his appointment as a Director of the Philological Society survey, and it was bearing the prospect of the Research Assistantship which the appointment carried with it. Bailes was one of Orton's students, on course to graduate with First Class Honours in English Language and Literature in June. Orton was tentatively offering (he made it clear the appointment was contingent on the Philological Society managing to raise the money) the Research Assistantship at £500 per annum, from which Bailes would meet his expenses; the potential for a PhD.; material for early publication; and the vista of enhanced academic employability once the work was completed.49

The Philological Society failed to find funds for a dialect survey, and perhaps it was this prior though provisional commitment to Bailes, coupled with the concrete planning which accompanied it, which moved Orton to make his first, and arguably his most critical, request for University support. The consequent award of £200 in June 1947 transformed what had up till then been a mainly private venture into one which directly involved his Department and the University. In any event, despite the failure of the Research Assistantship to materialise, Bailes' commitment and enthusiasm for the project remained high. At the end of September, supported by a postgraduate scholarship, and with research expenses being met from the newly established dialect fund, Bailes joined Orton and Dieth to train in the use of the Questionnaire. 50

Dieth and Orton had been working on the Questionnaire for almost two months, and had already been once to test sections of it on Mr. Shipley of Drax, Yorkshire, a blacksmith and small-holder, before taking Bailes on September 30 to observe them conducting further tests there. On October 2 he was taken by Dieth and allowed to carry out some testing himself on Yorkshire Dialect Society member Stanley Umpleby of Ripon. On the basis of this experience (and with half the Questionnaire in his hands) he began fieldwork on his own, charged with testing the questionnaire in Durham, exploring fieldwork conditions, and offering suggestions and criticisms on any aspect of the work which might arise. 51

Bailes was, without question, a guinea pig. Although Dieth and Orton had both carried out fieldwork in Britain before the war, and Orton had made collecting forays in September 1946 simply to assure himself and Dieth that there was still material worth collecting; and although several dialect surveys had been carried out or started abroad, no such investigation had ever been conducted in Britain. (Apart, perhaps, from Guy S. Lowman's survey before the war. Orton and Dieth would not have had access to Lowman's findings, however. See Viereck 1968). No one knew quite how to go about it in England or what to expect, least of all Bailes.

Not surprisingly, Bailes made (and freely admitted) mistakes. The premise on which he made his initial selection of sites was almost all wrong, for example, having based his choice on locations from which A.J. Ellis received information in the 19th century.52 On the other hand, Orton and Dieth did not always make his job easy. When he began fieldwork in October Bailes was given only four of the eight books which had been completed. To test the full questionnaire properly he therefore had to keep returning to the same places, taking up the time of the same people, stretching goodwill and adding to the hassle and expense of fieldwork as more books became available.53 There were also the usual and anticipated problems with the questionnaire itself, such as words with ambiguous meanings, or sentences which meant one thing to the compilers and another to the fieldworker or informants.

But with all of the problems of post-War petrol rationing, illness, misunderstanding, uncorrected bad habits of interviewer technique or transcription; with all of the dead-ends and wild goose chases, Bailes did what he was meant to do. He gave Orton and Dieth sufficient material about conditions in the field, about the questionnaire, and about the problems of training, preparation and administration to enable them to go confidently ahead with their plans, to refine their approach, and in the process to radically change the nature of the questionnaire.

In Orton and Dieth 1952 and other publications over the years Bailes was given credit for testing Version 1 of the Questionnaire (Paul Wettstein of Zurich carried out further tests in Derbyshire in 1948, and undergraduate student WE. Jones used it in research he began in the summer of 1948 on the dialect of Grindleton in the West Riding of Yorkshire). 54 Bailes himself wrote in 1951:


It was my privilege to carry out field-work for the preliminary investigation which laid down the principles on which the present full scale work is being carried out.. 55


But the detailed work involved in putting together the first version of the Questionnaire and Bailes' part in it virtually disappeared from subsequent encapsulations of the history of the English Dialect Survey.56 Indeed, this period, which coincided with that in which Orton still thought of his work as regional and linked to the Philological Society's national survey, had apparently dropped from general Departmental view as early as 1949. Peter Wright, who began work for the English Dialect Survey in July 1949, was not aware of the work that Bailes had done.57 This may in part be due to the fact that between the summer of 1948, when Bailes finished, and the summer of 1949 there were apparently no field tests of the Questionnaire carried out. In the academic year of 1948-1949 the project apparently lay fallow.



The English Dialect Survey: Manual Recording Begins


Peter Wright was Orton's first Research Assistant. With his appointment by the University in July 1949 "the Survey became an integral part of the researches of the University's Department of English Language and Medieval English Literature". 58 In a very real sense, as Wright himself reflected in a recent interview, it was in the summer of 1949 that the Survey began. 59

All of the work at Leeds prior to this had been seen in terms of the national survey proposed by the Philological Society. By the summer of 1949, however, Orton and Dieth had clearly decided "to go straight for the chief goal", and to lay the groundwork for the survey themselves. This would not preclude a future role for the Philological Society, but it is clear that Orton and Dieth were no longer relying upon it. If the Philological Society proved incapable of raising sufficient funds and spearheading a survey, the Leeds-based team would, tapping a variety of University, outside and personal sources to do so (for more detail, see "Financing the Survey", below).

The second most important decision which Orton and Dieth took in the fallow period between the summer of 1948 and the summer of 1949 involved the Questionnaire. This was to `set' or `frame' the words of each question, determining the precise words and the exact manner in which each question should be asked.60 By doing this, instead of following earlier practice and leaving it to the genius and inspiration of the individual fieldworker,61 they enhanced the scientific validity of the project: The Questionnaire would generate responses which were strictly comparable, no matter where the response was recorded or by which fieldworker. But in taking this new and so-far untried step they also committed themselves, in effect, to rewriting the entire Questionnaire. For his first two or three days, therefore, Wright found himself "working with Professor Dieth down in the depths of the Brotherton Library basement going through the English Dialect Dictionary looking for likely notions."62 He was then put to work with Fritz Rohrer, Dieth's assistant from Zurich, "making and improving drafts of the questionnaire." 63 As far as Wright was concerned, this was the genesis of the Questionnaire. 64

Then, in August, Orton, Dieth, Rohrer and Wright began a blitz65 collecting tour, testing the efficacy of the newly devised Questionnaire under different conditions in different parts of the country. This was the first expedition of its kind in England, and its scope is a clear cue that Orton and Dieth were embarked on the first stages of a national dialect survey.

The tests took them to six localities in six different counties: first to Hawes, in North Yorkshire; then to Marshside, Lancashire (now Merseyside); and as August turned to September, to Alford, Lincolnshire. They then went to Tideswell in North West Derbyshire, to Cullompton in Devon, and finished this first exciting "missionary tour" three weeks into September in Solihull.66 By the beginning of the new University term in October they had carried out revisions and had produced Version 3 of the Questionnaire. 67

Wright would now have begun official recording for the Survey with Version 3, but neither a car nor a tape-recorder was available.68 He therefore spent much of the Winter of 1949-50 compiling the provisional list of 300 sites upon which the national fieldwork would be based,69 and by the time petrol rationing had been lifted and the University had paid for a secondhand car (the famous "dialect car") in May 1950,70 Orton and Dieth had decided to test the Questionnaire once more. Wright carried out these tests in the first half of 1950, visiting Cumberland, Westmorland, Northumberland and the West Riding of Yorkshire.71 Orton and Dieth assessed the results and produced their fourth version of the Questionnaire by the end of the Long Vacation.72 Then, on October 19, 1950, in Spofforth in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Peter Wright and Harold Orton made the first official recording for the English Dialect Survey, using the fourth version of the Questionnaire.

Fieldwork in the original network of 300 localities was completed in 1959 and the end of this stage of work was actually announced,74 but Orton seized on the visit of a Fulbright scholar and on a postgraduate student to add eleven more sites in 1960-61: nine in Essex and two in Wales.75 The new figure of 311 localities appears in Harold Orton's Introduction to the Survey of English Dialects, published in 1962, and in another of his articles, published in 1963.76 The final figure of 313 sites was quietly reached by the inclusion during the editorial process of results already achieved by David Parry at one site, 23 Mon 7 (Monmouthshire: Newport; not listed in the Linguistic Atlas of England; for more details, see David Parry's account of his fieldwork, below), and by Peter Wright at 15 He 7 (Herefordshire: Lyonshall; also not listed in the Linguistic Atlas of England). 77 The variation in published figures - 300, 311, 313 - has led to some confusion, and this is perhaps compounded by the fact that the Linguistic Atlas of England speaks of 313 sites but reprints the list of 311 localities originally published in Orton's Introduction.78



The English Dialect Survey: Tape Recording Begins


The Survey of Northumbrian Dialects which Orton initiated in 1928 had as one of its aims the gramophone recording of substantial quantities of dialect speech, and he stated as early as 1946 in discussing his and Dieth's plans that he preferred to record such material using machines.79 The only hindrance to this was practicality - Bailes was defeated in his plan to use a tape-recorder as early as 1947, for example, because petrol rationing denied him the use of a car (and portable recorders at the time required a car).80 Studios, which Orton had used in the past for local collection, were out of the question in such a far-flung exercise, and they were far from perfect in any event, while recording vans were far too expensive.81 The technology of portable recording continued to improve and to become less expensive as the 1950s progressed, however, and Orton kept in touch with the latest developments, partly through contacts at the BBC.82

The frequency response of the Simon Mark I tape-recorder Stanley Ellis used in his researches in Lincolnshire83 was significantly improved from November 1951 by the purchase of a new moving-coil microphone,84 and at the beginning of 1952 the research team experimented with "a new idea, namely to make a tape-recording of the interview during which we put our questions to the informant."85 The first attempt to tape-record the entire Questionnaire, with Peter Wright putting the questions and Stanley Ellis operating the machine, took place in Scotton, Yorkshire, and proved "rather too diffuse."86 Their second attempt - "The old man in question is 84 to 85 and a real good dialect speaker" - took place on February 4 in Skelmanthorpe, Yorkshire, with Orton conducting the interview, and Ellis again on the machine.87 "[T]he system produces extremely interesting information," Stanley Ellis wrote later in the year.88 Harold Orton, when costs of tape and equipment came down years later, strongly advocated the complete tape-recording of informants in the place of manual recording;89 but at the time, as Ellis commented, "the adoption of a system of live recordings for all the Q[uestionnaire] in every village seems impracticable."90

This was partly because of the problems and cost associated with electricity and equipment in 1952. But Stanley Ellis also calculated that direct recording in each village of the entire Questionnaire would require a dozen reels of tape at £1.15s.Od a reel, or £20 per village.91 At forty villages a year, that would mean £800 per year spent on tape alone - £100 more than the entire annual research budget for the Folk Life Survey established eight years later, and four times the amount granted Orton in 1947 by the University for a fieldworker and expenses. To this would necessarily be added the costs of transferring the taped material to discs (the only certain method of preserving mechanically recorded material at the time 92), and of course the added maintenance and replacement costs for the machinery involved. Like much which would have extended the scope, coverage and value of the Survey, it was simply too expensive.

Limited recording - of a brief period of casual speech - was a more practical proposition, and Peter Wright made experimental recordings of such material in the Home Counties using the Simon Mark I tape-recorder in 1952.93 As he freely admits, however, his command of the cumbrous device was not such as to make the recordings useful for the purpose of the Survey,94 and in any event the recording quality on the Survey equipment even at its best could not meet the high standards of the BBC towards which Orton aspired. 95

Two new portables picked up by Wright from London in the summer of 1952 were "satisfactory for our purposes," according to Orton, but they were inexpensive machines and continued "to pick up a good deal of motor hum and background noise.96 The Phonetics Department technician, Henry Ellis, tinkered with the machines to improve their performance, adding, for example, an extra smoothing circuit, and even building a new, larger tape-recorder based on a Wearite tape deck. Following an unfavourable BBC report on the technical quality of three Survey recordings and a visit by Henry Ellis to the BBC in London at the end of January 1953, however, Orton decided that "we must now set about obtaining a machine that will do the material justice. Since Ellis speaks highly of the Martin machine, and since you in the BBC also recommend it, it looks as if that should be our machine".98

Less than six months later the Survey had acquired "a large mains taperecorder made by a small firm founded by a BBC engineer (Martin and Martin) using a Wright and Weare (later Ferrograph) deck on an amplifier and pre-amplifier built by Martin".99 Where mains power was unavailable, the necessary 230 v AC current was provided by a 110 amp-hour heavy-duty lead-acid lorry battery and a Valradio converter.100 Timothy Eckersley of the BBC was finally able to say to Orton in October 1953 "Your recordings sound just as good on BBC apparatus. They are first rate".101 This meant that a programme agreed between Orton and the BBC, whereby the BBC would make selections and permanent pressings for its Sound Archives from the Survey tapes, could go ahead.102 It also meant that Orton and Dieth were ready to decide to make a recording of the casual speech of a selected informant at each of the Survey locations. This decision, taken in 1953, completed the structure of the Survey.

By 1962 over 80% of the 311 Survey sites then covered - 259 - were represented by tape-recordings.104 Tape recording had begun well after manual recording, and had been disrupted, for example, by petrol shortages during the Suez Crisis. To achieve a complete coverage, for all sites in the Survey, taping therefore continued to 1967. Of these post-Survey recordings (as it were), Miss Rae Lee Siporin, an American Research Assistant in 1964-65, made eight - four in Derbyshire, one in Cheshire, two in Warwickshire and one in Nottinghamshire;105 Philip M. Tilling, co-editor of Volume 3 of the Basic Material, made others.106 The rest of the recordings from 1951 to 1967 were made either by Stanley Ellis (the majority) or by one of the other fieldworkers.107 The fact that a number of tape-recordings were made after the initial fieldwork meant that sometimes the original informants were not available, were too ill to record, or had died.



Fieldworkers and Contributors


Peter Wright (fieldworker; 1950-1952, 38 localities)

The first fieldworker for the English Dialect Survey was Peter Wright, who began as an undergraduate at Leeds in 1947 after five years in the Army. He did his B.A. thesis on the dialect of Fleetwood, Lancashire, where he had family, and where he had been working as a docker both before being called up and again for a period between demobilisation and entering Leeds. The package with which Orton enticed Wright to become his first Research Assistant included a starting annual stipend of £225, all fieldwork expenses, and the chance to work simultaneously toward his PhD.

He took up the position in July 1949, not quite sure what his role was to be, and "surprised at the time I was spending in headquarters, either helping to redraft the questionnaire or doing all sorts of other things."108 In August lie began fieldwork, testing Version 2 of the Questionnaire with Orton, Dieth and Fritz Rohrer. In 1949/1950, working under Orton's supervision, he selected the three hundred provisional localities which were to be visited for the Survey. In October 1950 he made the first of his recordings for the Survey in Yorkshire, using the fourth version of the Questionnaire.

University policy restricted a Research Assistantship to three years. It was suggested to him that this might be extended by a year, but Wright decided to complete his official work for the Survey when the assistantship ran out, in June 1952. To get the most out of him he was then sent on a collecting tour of the South, and it was on this occasion that he was sent to the London area "just to prove to Prof. Dieth, who didn't believe it, that London still had a dialect."109

On this trip he visited the Almshouses in South Hackney, taking the alternating-current tape-recorder with him to experiment with field recording:


We were told we could use these tape recorders as a treat, to let people hear the sound of their own voices, this is the days when very few people had heard their own voices. I did this in South Hackney, plugged it into the electric light - it blew up, because it was direct current. 110


Being in the London area he was not too far from the manufacturers, and the tape-recorder was quickly repaired.

After handing over as Research Assistant to Stanley Ellis in 1952, Wright carried on with his PhD., completing A Grammar of the Dialect of Fleetwood (Lancs.) Descriptive and Historical in March 1954 and continuing to help with the Survey while doing so.



Stanley Ellis (fieldworker; 1951- 1957, 118 localities)

At the suggestion of Harold Orton, Stanley Ellis began fieldwork for his B.A. in the summer of 1950 in Kettlewell, Yorkshire.112 He was thereafter associated with the Leeds dialect programme up until the closure of the Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies, and continues that association as Honorary Lecturer in the School of English. He took over from Peter Wright as the full-time Research Assistant for the Survey in 1952 and held the post until 1957, when he was appointed to the staff of the Department in the first instance as an assistant lecturer.113

He became involved with the Survey when, having completed his thesis on Kettlewell in the Spring of 1951, he "offered to spend some time during the summer on field-work for the Linguistic Atlas."114 Accordingly, he followed up Departmental contacts in Digby, Lincolnshire, where, using Version 4 of the Questionnaire, his "results were considered good enough to justify a second visit to Digby with Peter Wright...".115 In July he visited the village of Fulbeck and took another full recording:


It was then decided that I should pursue a full-time course to lead to the degree of Master of Arts and should continue field-work to complete a pilot-survey of Lincolnshire with the fifth version of the Questionnaire....116


He spent parts of August 1951 with Orton and Dieth, listening to their discussions about the preparation of the Questionnaire, and after a delay he began the pilot survey, the fieldwork for which was completed in December 1951. His thesis A Study of the Living Dialect of Lincolnshire Based on an Investigation by Questionnaire was the first such county-wide pilot-study, and the first attempt to organise and analyse the material which was produced by the Dieth/Orton Questionnaire.117 He completed it in July, 1952, and without a break continued his fieldwork as a paid Research Assistant for the Survey.

When Ellis began fieldwork in Lincolnshire


Food was still rationed and as inns and hotels providing for visitors did not exist in most villages, private householders had to be persuaded to offer accommodation. Emergency ration cards had often to be produced almost on the doorstep before some housewives 1 unable to stretch their supplies further, would offer board and lodging.


However, he felt himself


fortunate that I found myself living with people who, if not themselves dialect speakers of the district, were at least identified with the everyday life of the village. The system had disadvantages in that I most often found myself among sanitary facilities of a most primitive kind, and privacy in washing was generally non-existent, since all activities in the house went on in the one downstairs room. Since my hosts were usually amongst the poorer people of the village, they rarely possessed electricity, so that a torch was a standard piece of equipment. Running water was generally not yet available in the villages. As a field-worker I found myself participating to the full in the life of the ordinary labourers and was surprised at the general lack of amenities available in the villages. 119


Ellis married and acquired a caravan in 1953. This caravan was pulled initially by the 1936 Vauxhall 14 hp. car bought for the Survey by the University in 1950 (the "dialect car") through Peter Wright's contacts, and later by a Land Rover; in this caravan he and his wife and child lived while he made his recordings with the Questionnaire, and lived comfortably and sociably with the local people. 120

During his undergraduate fieldwork Ellis made studio tape-recordings, and tried to make live recordings, though he was defeated in attempts at the latter in Kettlewell because of "the unsuitable electricity supply".121 In the Lincolnshire work, by using homes of informants' friends which had electricity, he managed to make tape recordings at eleven out of twelve villages.122 The possibilities of tape-recording in the field excited him, and he was knowledgeable about and fascinated by the technical side of machine recording. Not surprisingly, therefore, "we soon came to regard him as our specialist in tape-recording dialect-speakers, and most of the gramophone records made from the tape-recordings were obtained through his skill."123

Once engaged on work for the Survey as a Research Assistant Ellis "was able to make successful tape-recordings during the fieldwork at most of his localities."124 With the high-quality recorder obtained in 1953 "many of the places in the East and North Ridings" where Wright had recorded only manually "were re-visited by Dr. Wright and I took the new machine to record some of his informants' voices."125 Over the years he visited localities tested by Gibson, Sykes, John Wright and Playford, "and took tape-recordings of informants as requested by the fieldworkers concerned."126 He was primarily responsible for the tape-recording programme which carried on after the collection phase with the Questionnaire formally closed in 1961.127

Nelson Francis refers to Ellis' "incomparable knowledge of field methods and problems".128 As principal field-worker for the Survey (accounting for 118 of the 313 sites), as someone intimately involved in the dialect programme at Leeds for (in the end) a longer time than Orton himself, and as a regular broadcaster,129 Ellis is clearly one of the important figures in the study of dialect and traditional culture in England, and especially as it was conducted from Leeds.


Peter H. Gibson (fieldworker; 1953- 1955, 11 localities)

Peter Gibson began work for his M.A. thesis Studies in the Linguistic Geography of Staffordshire in September 1953. The following information comes from this thesis.

He carried out a pilot survey in Wilnecote, Warwickshire, on the Staffordshire border, where he had an aunt who could introduce him to suitable informants. He returned to Leeds to examine, analyse, and improve his technique, and then spent over three months carrying out fieldwork for the Survey. Having studied much of the material he then made return visits, rectifying "significant errors and omissions."130 In January, 1955, he returned again with Stanley Ellis to make tape-recordings, and succeeded in taking recordings at each locality except Borlaston: "the only suitable informant, Mr. P Gregory, had left the locality and was untraceable." 131 His thesis, Studies in the Linguistic Geography of Staffordshire (1955), was "the first scientific account of the dialects of Staffordshire.”132


Marie Haslam (contributor; 1954, 1 locality)

Took her B.A. in 1954 with The Living Dialect of Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire. The recording she made in Wheathampstead was accepted for the Survey (see her thesis).


Donald R. Sykes (fieldworker; 1954-1955, 31 localities)

Took his B.A. in the Department in 1954 with The Dialect of Crosland Hill, Near Huddersfield. Then "In June, 1954, Professor Orton asked me to become a second fieldworker for the Linguistic Atlas of England, to be financed from a Leverhulme Research Grant he had just been awarded." This grant was renewed in the following year. 133

During the period of August 26 to September 30, 1954, he observed Stanley Ellis at work in four Cumberland villages. On October 5 he began work on his own in Shropshire where, by Christmas, he had investigated ten localities. In January he returned with Stanley Ellis to make tape-recordings in seven of the Shropshire villages. In February 1955 he "opened up" Worcestershire, managing to complete the Questionnaire in two localities before bad weather stopped play until after Easter. He finished Worcestershire on May 17, 1955, and continued fieldwork in the West Midlands, including Gloucestershire, until Christmas, 1955. He submitted his MA thesis, The Linguistic Geography of Shropshire and Worcestershire: A Phonological Survey, in May 1956, and this is the source of the information above.


John T Wright (fieldworker; 1955-1958, 48 localities and 2 shared)

Took his B.A. in the Department in 1955 with The Phonology of the Dialect of Lisvane. Glamorgan (from which this information is taken). His work for the Survey began with a pilot study at Easton-in-Gordano near Bristol in September, 1955. He went up to Leeds for Orton's critique, and then in the same month returned to Weston in Somerset to begin fieldwork for the Survey. At Weston he took accommodation with his main informant "and stayed longer than usual in order to acquaint myself the better with the phonetics of south-western dialect."134 By July 1956 he had completed recordings in 14 localities. He returned with Stanley Ellis in July and December to make the tape recordings. From this material he constructed his M.A. thesis, Studies in the Linguistic Geography of Somerset, which he submitted in May 1957. He continued fieldwork for the Survey, however, until 1958.135


Averil Playford (fieldworker; 1955-1957, 12 localities)

The Research Board of Leicester University awarded Playford a scholarship to do research on the linguistic geography of Leicestershire, which she carried out under the supervision of Orton at Leeds. "As I had no previous knowledge of what such a study would entail, Professor Orton gave me a period of intensive training, both in phonetics and in all other subjects essential for successful fieldwork."136 After pilot studies at two villages near her home, and the usual analysis and critique by Orton, she began fieldwork in Leicestershire, completing ten localities in six months. She then spent two months on two localities in Rutland. Half-way through her work, in May 1956, Stanley Ellis joined her to tape her best informants. The Suez Crisis and petrol rationing prevented his return in December, and when she submitted her M.A. thesis, Studies in the Linguistic Geography of Leicestershire and Rutland in May 1957, tape recording had still not resumed. The information above is from her thesis.


W.N. Francis (fieldworker; 1956-1957, 13 localities)

Prof. Francis came to the Department in September 1956 from Franklin and Marshall College, Pennsylvania, as a Senior Research Fellow on a Fulbright Fellowship, organised by Orton.137 As described in his fieldwork narrative below, he met Orton during one of the latter's regular visits to the United States. Francis was, to quote Orton, "well versed in the methods of American Linguistic Geography."138 His Fulbright ran until August 1957, during which time he investigated 13 sites in Norfolk. (See his fieldwork narrative below).


Michael V Barry (fieldworker; 1957-1959, 27 localities and 2 shared)

Barry took his B.A. in the Department in 1958 with The Phonology of the Living Dialect of Neston in Cheshire; and began fieldwork towards his Master's thesis, Studies in the Linguistic Geography of Kent, Surrey and Sussex in October 1958 from which the following information derives. He was invited by Orton in November 1958 to undertake the work necessary to complete the collecting for the Linguistic Atlas of England. Beginning with the Isle of Man, by November 1959 he had completed investigations at sites in Kent, Berkshire, the Isle of Wight, Wiltshire, Sussex, Surrey and Essex (in that order). He did his own tape-recording, using a portable Grundig, and carried out a number of the post-Survey tape-recordings as well.

Barry was unique among the fieldworkers for the English Dialect Survey in co-editing one of the volumes of the Basic Material, vol. 2, The West Midland Counties.


David R. Parry (contributor; 1959-1960, 3 localities)

A Sheffield University graduate, Parry was awarded his M.A. from Leeds in 1964 for Studies in the Linguistic Geography of Radnorshire, Breconshire, Monmouthshire and Glamorganshire. Three of his recordings in Monmouthshire were included in the Survey. His fieldwork narrative below describes his experience in greater detail.


Howard N. Berntsen (fieldworker; 1960-1961, 9 localities)

Howard Berntsen was a Fulbright Scholar from the United States, who began fieldwork for the Survey in 1960. He spent the first year "devoted entirely to fieldwork, learning the job and then doing it"139 in Essex, and a second year producing his three-volume M.A. thesis, Studies in the Linguistic Geography of Essex, June 1962. He then returned to the States to begin work on his PhD. (See his thesis).



Financing the Survey


In 1960 fieldwork was nearing completion and the Survey was entering its next phase, the publication of its findings. Orton looked back over its first 21 years to describe how the fieldwork for the English Dialect Survey had been financed:


The cost of the Survey has been almost wholly covered by the University of Leeds ... Amongst other things the University provided salaries for two specially engaged fieldworkers, and maintenance for a third, helped one of the married ones to buy a caravan for use in the field, bought us two motor-cars [one of them a Land Rover], one motorcycle [alternatively, two 140] and several tape-recorders, financed almost all the fieldwork and allowed us the clerical assistance of the Departmental Secretary, Miss Vera Cracknell, who has already given us enormous help; it also allotted the requisite accommodation, and has already made a handsome grant towards the cost of our proposed publications. Certain small contributions have also accrued from fees for lectures and broadcasts, one or two from anonymous donors, and some from the British Broadcasting Corporation in return for the use of our tape-recordings. The Leverhulme Trust gave me two grants in 1954 and 1955 towards the cost of fieldwork in the West Midlands. Five of the fieldworkers, whose investigations were undertaken as part of their courses for higher degrees, were financed by University Scholarships or Research Grants. But Mr. Stanley Ellis nobly bore the expense of his own fieldwork in Lincolnshire. Further, Eugen Dieth's visits to this country for work on the Survey were partly paid for himself, and later subsidised from certain official Swiss sources. And last year Mrs. McGrigor Phillips, Dorothy Una Ratcliffe, whose munificent gifts have promoted so many excellent causes and projects, many within Leeds University, gave £150 towards our imminent publication expenses. 141



The Survey of English Dialects


The English Dialect Survey and all it involved is today almost universally referred to as the Survey of English Dialects, or SED. But initially `English Dialect Survey' was "our usual name for the project as a whole",142 and `Survey of English Dialects' referred only to the publication programme founded by Harold Orton in 1962 in order to make public the findings of the Survey.143 We have preserved the distinction between the EDS and the SED throughout these studies.

Orton saw the SED as composed of five distinct projects: 144


  1. An Introduction to the English Dialect Survey and to the Survey of English Dialects (written by Harold Orton and published in 1962);
  2. The Basic Material, 404,000 items of information gathered using the Questionnaire (published in tabular form in four volumes of three books each between 1962 and 1971);
  3. The Selected Incidental Material, four companion volumes to the above, presenting some of the vast quantities of linguistic material gathered incidentally to the Questionnaire during the interviews (not yet published);
  4. The Linguistic Atlas of England, an interpretative presentation of the material collected with the Questionnaire, using maps (co-edited by Harold Orton, Stewart Sanderson and John Widdowson, and published in 1978, after Orton's death);
  5. The Phonetic Transcriptions, both in broad and narrow systems, of the tape-recordings which were made of selected informants (not yet published; a later plan to publish the tape recordings themselves has also not yet been realised).


Much of the story of the Survey of English Dialects will be discussed in the third part of our study, because the Institute of Dialect and Folklife Studies to which it is devoted was founded in 1964 in part precisely to ensure the survival of the SED and the successful completion of its publication programme. It might be useful here, because of the historical aspect, just to discuss briefly a point made in Chambers' and Trudgill's Dialectology, in which they say of the Basic Material volumes:


When the results were in, Orton decided to publish them by making a compendium of each informant's response to each question at the interview. .This format was determined out of economic necessity, as a less expensive way of publishing the results than the usual set of maps with responses overlaid. The format, though it was adopted somewhat reluctantly, renders the English data more readily accessible than any of the other surveys so far ..145


This underrates Orton's and Dieth's motivation and foresight.

A linguistic atlas of England was always the aim of the English Dialect Survey, and The Linguistic Atlas of England was indeed published in 1978.146 Orton never abandoned the atlas, nor did he turn reluctantly to tabular publication out of economic necessity. The decision to publish in this form was taken as early as the summer of 1955, once the results of the Survey of the Northern Counties of England were in, at which point (according to Orton in his obituary of Dieth in 1956), Dieth "accepted with alacrity the proposal that he should undertake the responsibility for publishing phonological maps for the six Northern Counties from Zurich, while the basic material would be published in tabular form from Leeds."147

Following Dieth's death, the responsibility for compiling a linguistic atlas of England ultimately devolved back to Leeds. But the logic of the work required the completion of Orton's editorial work on the Basic Material first. As he wrote in 1970, "Since the 12 books of Basic Material are now either in print or shortly to be printed we can start our preparations for the projected Linguistic Atlas of England.”148 The energy he poured into the founding of the Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies in 1964 derived precisely from his intention to see the Linguistic Atlas of England published as "the crowning achievement" of the Survey of English Dialects. 149



Part 2

The English Dialect Survey: Descriptive


The Questionnaire


The Questionnaire was, in Harold Orton's words, "the fundamental instrument of our projected Atlas".1 It was a complex instrument, intended to "cover all the necessary philological requirements in point of lexical, phonological, grammatical, syntactical, morphological, and semantic material"2 and in its final form had questions "framed clearly enough to evoke the most informative responses".3 Between 1947 and 1957 it went through six versions - although it would probably be truer to say that the Questionnaire was in a continuous process of revision, and that each "version", rather than in any sense being a completed object, was the notional starting point for a renewed round of tests, analysis and revision.

The development of the Questionnaire fell into two distinct phases, marked by the hiatus in fieldwork between the summer of 1948 and the summer of 1949, between the tests carried out by John Lloyd Bailes using Version 1 of the Questionnaire and those carried out in 1949 using Version 2.

In its First Version - which is to say, in its First Phase - the Questionnaire "was purely notional, i.e. it merely listed the notions to be named by the farmers, and the fieldworker was left to obtain the farmers' usual expressions for them as best he could."4 In the Second and all subsequent versions the questions were all set in full, and the fieldworker was required to ask each question in the prescribed words and in a certain way. This one change made an immense difference to the Questionnaire and to the undertaking as a whole.

In terms of the Questionnaire's compilation, the need to devise the exact wording for each question "was a strenuous task", according to Orton, which "meant learning a new technique"5. Indeed, it effectively meant rewriting the Questionnaire. In testing the Questionnaire the investigator no longer had to ask himself only `Is this a productive notion, does it give useful information on the local dialect?', but also `Does the way the question is worded actually affect the response? Is there some word or even a sound which inadvertently deflects the informant from his natural dialectal response or which draws him towards another? Does the question allow the informant to open up his dialect, or does it somehow channel him into a response which he would not normally or naturally make among his dialect-speaking peers?'

As for the actual fieldwork, the introduction of the set question freed the fieldworker from a great many peripheral concerns, focused attention on the relationship between the informant and the fieldworker (and thereby opened up a whole range of contemporary fieldwork issues), called up a new set of skills, and turned the interaction between fieldworker and informant into a kind of game: "The informants really enjoy the interviews and often equate the procedure, and their performance, with programmes they can hear on the radio.” 6

The introduction of the set question led almost accidentally to another innovation demarcating Phase 1 from Phase 2 of the Questionnaire. This was the Conversion question, the recognition and development of which solved the apparently intractable problem of collecting grammar. As Orton explained it,


Eugen Dieth and I were not a little apprehensive about the difficulty of eliciting from the ordinary man and woman factual information about their grammatical habits of speech. We were afraid that these questions would prove insufferable to them. How, for example, could you, with any hope of success, ask a farmer to tell you his form of the third person singular indicative of the verb to be, or the past participle of, for example, break, come, eat, find, make, speak, steal or take; or his way of expressing the notion of possession, for example in father's boots; or whether he prefers shall or will in a given context; or how he expresses, to an intimate, I am, isn't she, you are; or, lastly, how he expresses the distinction, if any, between the pronouns this, that, and that over there?7


Seen in these terms it was, of course, an impossible dilemma, and one they had not solved by the time Bailes completed his fieldwork .8

Using the Conversion question, however,


we first get the informant to use the wanted verb in the present and then, by introducing the temporal adverbs yesterday, whenever, always, and converting the companion verb appropriately, we induce him to convert his verb into the past tense and past participle, e.g., When I have an apple I_eat it. .. is thus converted into (1) Yesterday I had an apple and I_ate it, and (2) Whenever I have had an apple, I have-eaten it.9


This method was not entirely without its problems - "one farmer, after one of the questions, suddenly burst out `By G-- you're examining me!'" 10 But on the other hand, certainly in the early stages of the Survey,


women invariably delight in being confronted with such sequences as `Never drop a tumbler on the floor, because it's bound to_ break*'; `I dropped one yesterday, and of course it-broke'; `So I had to tell my wife that I had broken* it.' 11


Consequently, "rather than providing difficulty, or even awkwardness," as Orton and Dieth had feared, "the grammatical questions are in fact some of the most successful elements in the Questionnaire...". 12 And it (presumably) made it possible for Orton and Dieth to frame the questions in Book 8 and so begin Phase 2 with a complete Questionnaire. 13


Phase 1/Version 1

According to Bailes, Orton and Dieth began work on the First Version of the Questionnaire on August 4, 1947.14 Over the next two months ("in the wonderfully fine summer of 1947, most of which was sent in the sunless basement of the Brotherton Library at Leeds University"15) they pored over dictionaries, glossaries, and dialectological monographs, searching for notions which "might be expected to be remunerative and to yield a large variety of typical dialectal forms, words and expressions."16 Their predilection for the dialect of agriculture and the home was confirmed by consultation with Annie Langrick, one of Orton's undergraduates, a native of Bubwith (North of Leeds), whose thesis The Phonology of the Dialect of Bubwith, based on the fieldwork she was then conducting, was completed in the following year.17 They also sent out a short list of questions to members of the Yorkshire Dialect Society asking for any terms or notions which they thought might be productive in the forthcoming survey.18

The result was a projected Questionnaire of nine "Books",19 eight of which were ready, and four of which were in John Lloyd Bailes' hands when he began fieldwork on October 5, 1947.20 Beset by illness, post-war transportation problems and other difficulties, he carried out tests of the Questionnaire in seven locations in Durham (including Byers Green, Orton's home village, on the phonology of which Orton had written his own master's thesis). The thesis Bailes completed in 1948 presents the phonological and lexical material he collected with the Questionnaire, but also gives a detailed description, analysis and critique of the first version of the Questionnaire and of the fieldwork and fieldwork conditions which its testing involved, with feelings-in-the-dark and mistakes left in place. Given the loss in 1959 of Orton's early files, it is the single most important source of information about this First Phase of the Questionnaire and Survey.21

Because of the solutions and inventions of 1948-49 the Questionnaire of 1949, or Version 2, was a very different beast from that used in 1947-48: Version 2 was not simply an improvement of Version 1; it was an entirely new development, the first version of an all new type of Questionnaire. Version 1 was the culmination of over twenty years of experience and preparation; it was the getting back into harness after six years of war; it was the precipitating out of something like the English Dialect Survey at a time when there was no clear sense of direction from outside the University, and no established foundation within. Version 2 is the consequence of two men having cut free from the Philological Society, found their feet in the field, and established a base in the University. Phase 1 is a prefatory exercise, a warming up; Phase 2 is the English Dialect Survey.

This is perhaps why Phase 1 and everything involved with it so quickly dropped out of accounts of the English Dialect Survey (see "The (Virtually) Forgotten Fieldworker", above). And yet, though in many ways forgotten and obscured, it was in Phase One that the basic goals and limits of the Survey, and the length, structure, and content of the Questionnaire were determined: despite the two distinct phases in the development of the Questionnaire, one can nevertheless speak of six versions of one Questionnaire. This continuity helps to explain the almost magical fecundity of Version 2 experienced by Peter Wright in 1949, as described below.

The first decision which Orton and Dieth took in preparing Version 1 of the Questionnaire was to concentrate on the vocabulary and language of Farming and of the Home. This was one of their most important decisions, and it was taken for three practical reasons. Firstly it was taken because there was not the money for a more comprehensive survey (which might have taken in the dialects of towns, fishing, and urban industries, for example);22 secondly because "it is the vocabulary of farming that preserves the traditional forms of speech best of all";23 and thirdly "because farming is a universal industry, the concentration of attention upon the speech of this section of the community is bound to produce a large amount of comparable material for every place investigated. This would not be so with restricted and localised industries like mining, sea-faring, fishing, engineering, or textiles."24

The length of the Questionnaire was similarly determined by the goal of completing it at 200 to 500 sites within a period of five years, which led them "to reduce the Questionnaire to such a size that it could be conveniently answered within one week."25 The structure of the Questionnaire was determined before September 1947 by the belief that both informant and fieldworker would be helped if the questions were, as far as possible, linked by theme or thread of interest. This would enable recording to be carried out smoothly, without flitting from topic to topic and so disturbing unduly the train of thought.26

With all of this in mind, Orton and Dieth devised a first questionnaire which covered 800 "notions" - key words or phrases for which the dialect usage was wanted - which altogether made up 1100 questions. These were arranged by topic into nine Books of about twelve pages each: 1. Farm housing and implements; 2. Tillage and crops; 3. The Naming and description of animals; 4. Care and use of animals; 5. Carts and topography; 6. Wild life; 7. Household; cooking and clothing; 9. The human body. 7 Compare these with the nine Books of the Sixth and final Version of the Questionnaire listed below.

Book 8, intended to cover syntax and morphology, never appeared. 28

These Books were designed so that the fieldworker could make the best use of his informants' suitability and time: he could administer the books singly or in any combination, with the aim of completing the nine books of one full Questionnaire at each location using as few informants as feasible as quickly as possible.29 The answers to that single questionnaire would then be treated, analysed and mapped as if they were linguistically representative for the location. All of this, determined for the First Version of the Questionnaire, characterised the rest.


Phase 2/Version 2

We have no direct information on what was taking place in the year between the end of Bailes' fieldwork in 1948 and the beginning of Wright's in 1949, and though there may be some support for it, we cannot verify the statement that Version 2 was ready by the end of the summer of 1948.30 As discussed earlier there is some room for doubt, because something very like the creation of Version 2 was going on when Wright began work for the Survey in the summer of 1949.

The main task at that point, with the fundamental decisions about the Questionnaire itself already taken, was to amplify the list of productive notions, and to carry out the challenging but tedious task of framing, testing and reframing each question. Consequently, Wright's first picture of Dieth in July 1949 was of a man "toiling page by page, notion by notion, through the six volumes of the English Dialect Dictionary".31 He was first put to work in the basement of the Brotherton Library assisting Dieth, and then "in a downstairs room improving drafts of the questionnaire", with Dieth's assistant from Zurich, Fritz Rohrer, developing notions and framing questions. "The phrase `yawn and bash on' ... came out of those hot days spent in the basement of the Brotherton Library", and entered as a catch phrase into the culture of the dialect programme.33

"When we got a notion," Wright explains,


the four of us would be around the table, and so often, to check how good the notion might be, there would be brought out various words: left handed or some other thing, the cow house, that the people knew from books, and then Harold would say, "Oh. Well. In the North East we say so-and-so, we say the byre; then he'd ask me for my word from Lancashire, see; that would sometimes corroborate that this was a good, possible notion.


And then, to start framing the question we would, somebody would go, probably Eugen Dieth, to the OED and see how the word was explained there. But it was, I suppose, rather a hit and miss affair at the beginning, but it still yielded remarkable results right from the start, I suppose because there were so many more broad dialect speakers around, even in '52 or '49 rather than 20 years later.34


After a trial run with part of the new Questionnaire locally,35 Dieth, Orton, Rohrer and Wright began a tour of six English counties in the middle of August 1949, conducting tests on the full Questionnaire. The first was carried out at Hawes in North Yorkshire; the second in Marshside (then in Lancashire, now in Merseyside) in the last week of August; the third in Alford, Lincolnshire, as August turned into September; the fourth in Tideswell in North West Derbyshire; the fifth in Cullompton, in Devon. They finished this particular "missionary tour" (to use Peter Wright's phrase36) in the third week of September, with the sixth and final test in Solihull.37 The localities were chosen for a variety of reasons - Tideswell "because Harold Orton thought that was one of the last outposts . . . to be civilised in Northern and Middle England "38 (it was also one of the sites Orton had visited in his first dialect hunting foray after the war, a place in which he had local contacts39); Marshside and Cullompton because Wright had family connections in the areas;40 Solihull because of Orton's local family connections.41

When they arrived in a new area "our first aim was to contact the schoolmaster or vicar or anyone else who might put us onto some old native dialect-speaker willing to help."42 Then, having located and chosen four or so willing and appropriate informants, it was a matter of "descending on them sometimes as a quartet, sometimes in pairs," generally a senior member of the team paired with a junior, and usually one Swiss with one English.43 The plan was not to collect information for its own sake, but to test the Questionnaire - to ask of each question if it was productive, was it phrased properly, did it produce an ambiguous response, could it more effectively be worded? And then,


After each dialect hunt the team would return to headquarters, discard a few useless questions, reframe many others and insert additional ones. Reframing questions was particularly important because it is so easy by using a certain word to influence an answer. Thus, if you ask "What do you call a coat?," an informant may well reply coat even if he normally uses the word jacket, and, if a question runs "After a meal, when you remove the things, what do you say you do?," this might suggest side the things rather than side up, side away, side the table, etc. It was and remains a difficult problem, but time spent revising the questionnaire saved much semantic trouble later on.44


In framing questions they therefore "tried to avoid any word or sound that might conceivably form part of the response,"45 while endeavouring "to force him [the informant] into finding his own expression out of his own experience."46

On this basis Version 2 of the Questionnaire was transformed into Version 3 by the end of the Long Vacation of 1949. 47


Versions 3-6

Version 3 of the Questionnaire was tested by Peter Wright in the early Summer of 1950 in Cumberland, Westmorland, Northumberland and the West Riding of Yorkshire.48

Orton and Dieth then revised it again, reducing "the number of books from ten to nine by squeezing all the questions on animals into one book",49 and by the end of the Long Vacation of 1950 the Questionnaire had been refined into Version 4.50 Harold Orton and Peter Wright then used this version to take the first official recording for the English Dialect Survey on October 19, 1950 in Spofforth in the West Riding of Yorkshire. 51

The Fourth Version was also revised, this work being completed by August 1951,52 and the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, at their own cost, printed Version 5 of the Questionnaire both in their Proceedings of 1952 and as a separately paginated booklet. 53 Version 5 formed the basis for all subsequent fieldwork, modifications being made up to Christmas 1957. 54

The sixth and final Version of the Questionnaire was published in 1962 in Orton 1962a. This was a reprint of Version 5 in which all subsequent changes, and the dates at which they had been adopted, were meticulously indicated. In this, as in its first form, the Dieth/Orton Questionnaire was divided into nine Books: I. The Farm; II. Farming; III. Animals; IV. Nature; V. The House and Housekeeping; VI. The Human Body; VII. Numbers, Time and Weather; VIII. Social Activities; and IX. States, Actions, Relations.

There were 1092 numbered questions, which unfolded into 1322 virtual questions. Of these, 387 had been included for phonological, 128 for morphological, 77 for syntactical, and 730 for mainly lexical purposes. 55


For the purposes of the Survey Orton and Dieth had devised five different types of question.56



"Here we merely point to an object, describe it, show a picture or diagram of it; or else imitate an action or make an appropriate gesture; and then ask the informant to name it.” 57 This was the most frequently used type of question. 58


"[T]he question is set out in the form of a statement, which the fieldworker, by using a suitable intonation, invites his informant to complete with his own expression". 59 This was the second most frequently used - "It undoubtedly works efficiently and the informants obviously relish it".60


This was the "nearest approach to the ideal way of eliciting dialectal material..."61 being the nearest to simple conversation. The fieldworker would simply ask, for example, `What trees have you around here?', or, `What can you make from milk?'. Among the informant's answers there were certain words the fieldworker needed to hear for their phonological value; if he didn't, these would have to be elicited in other ways. The Talking question was used sparingly "because it produces results too slowly...". 62


We discussed the Conversion question at length above. It was alighted upon after the completion of Version 1 as a particularly useful device for gathering grammar, but was used "Only as a last choice".63 Orton apparently had ambiguous feelings about the Conversion question, referring to it both as "quite satisfactory",64 and as "makeshift”. 65


There were only ten questions in which "we give the informant a particular word and ask him what he means by it. The question aims at ascertaining the range of meanings of a particular word - its local semantic variability."66


In Use

In theory, it took an average of two hours to administer each of the nine Books in the Questionnaire. In practice, it took between 15 and 26 hours over a period of four to eight days for the entire Questionnaire, depending upon conditions and the skills and speed with which the fieldworker worked.67

The shortest and most easily administered Books were the first two, which John T Wright found could generally be completed in one session; or, if the informant were busy or in poor health, "in two relatively short interviews".68 Because they were "suitably framed for the small farmer of the older generation" and "related chiefly to familiar concrete notions", he found the first two books also made "an excellent introduction ... to the methods and purposes of the survey."69

They were so well designed that Michael Barry found it


rarely difficult to find informants who, once having had their appetites whetted with the first four books, did not find great enjoyment and interest in supplying the information required in the remaining five sections.... 70


The longest and most difficult books were intentionally placed ninth and last, so that the fieldworker could assess the intelligence and performance of his informants while administering the earlier books; the most difficult questions were thus saved for the sharpest informant.71 By paying close attention to the design and administration of the Questionnaire, Orton and Dieth had in any event managed to mitigate the difficulties to a great extent, so that "rather than providing difficulty, or even awkwardness, the grammatical questions [in Books VIII and IX] are in fact some of the most successful elements in the Questionnaire, and more often than not, they give informants considerable entertainment."72

This was Stanley Ellis' experience: they were


far from dull for the informant, and are extremely interesting and enjoyable, especially since the fieldworker has often to demonstrate the meaning of various verbs, e.g. by creeping about the floor. One retired farm worker at Tealby [Lincolnshire], due to celebrate his eightieth birthday the following day, bade me goodbye after completing Book IX, the fifth book of questions that he had answered in a week, and told me that it was the best week's holiday he had had for years. The man was crippled by arthritis and was slowly losing his sight, but his brain was active and a change of company was worth a great deal to him. The questioning had gone throughout with a facility which was not unusual, but which to the uninitiated would be surprising. Only rarely and with the most garrulous informants is it difficult to keep to the subject. This is largely due to the planning of the Questionnaire and the care with which it was ensured that a theme should link the various questions together. The questions are linked one to the next, and it is to the advantage of the field-worker that this is so; interviews go smoothly and the field-worker is often invited to come again even before he has asked if he may.73


In its final form, the Questionnaire was a rigorous, perhaps even rigid instrument of scientific investigation, which required specialised training to administer. But it did not require a special intelligence or specialised training to answer, and this was part of its beauty: "the task of answering the questions is well within the compass of the average farmer".74 More than this, when administered properly it generated good feeling, interest, pride, and a feeling of achievement both in the informant and in the fieldworker, and often developed in the informant a willingness to be called on again.

It was certainly not perfect, as Orton himself would admit;75 but as a scientific tool for the investigation of a particular aspect of English traditional culture, it solved a considerable number of complex and potentially irreconcilable problems with such apparent ease as to make certain educated observers remark on its "naivety" and "childishness".76 Further, whatever its flaws, it formed a watershed in the study of English dialect.77



Fieldwork and Fieldworkers


Creating Fieldworkers


It is clear from the reminiscences published below that Harold Orton was always alive to the talent for dialectological research in his Departmental undergraduates, and that he nurtured, encouraged, directed, and actively drew promising students into the work of the English Dialect Survey. As the Survey developed it became increasingly central to the Department's life. Undergraduate research was conducted using the Questionnaire, and in writing their theses his students wrestled on Orton's behalf with the editorial, organisational and mapping complexities which the mountain of Questionnaire material involved.78 At least one site was added to the Survey because thesis work showed it was necessary;79 and Dr. Halliday - a voluntary editor of Survey material from 1952-1962 - took an active if informal role in teaching (see "Editing: Dr. Wilfrid Halliday", below). Promising undergraduates were urged to become fieldworkers; Ian Whittaker, for example, whose tapes were re-recorded onto discs for the Survey archives, was diverted only by National Service.

The Department as a whole was turned into a laboratory for dialectological research, of which the Dialect Survey, with University recognition, became a special extension. Throughout the course of the English Dialect Survey there continued this tremendous student activity supporting and feeding into the Survey, which in return fed back into and stimulated the educational life of the Department of English Language and Medieval English Literature. Orton's students as a whole, whether formally involved or not, were made to feel that they were a part of the Survey.80

This creation of a school of dialectology within an English university was the realisation of a dream Orton first voiced publicly in the 1920s.81 It was the first such school, and it was also the solution to the dilemma of how to carry out a reliable and extensive survey of English dialects while keeping mainly within the resources of the University of Leeds. Orton believed that under ideal conditions, "The fieldwork for a Linguistic Atlas should be carried out by one person only". 82 Whatever peculiarities there may have been in his or her hearing and transcription of sounds, as long as this bias were consistent and systematic it would at least have meant that the recordings of all informants were consistently coloured, and therefore internally comparable. Where, as in the English Dialect Survey, one was mainly concerned with the historically-based and meaningful relations and boundaries among dialects, as long as the information itself was systematic in relation to itself, then it need not be precisely phonologically accurate. If there were some check against which the fieldworker's bias could then be corrected, so much the better: a high degree of phonological accuracy would be assured as well. Hence Orton's eagerness to include tape-recording within the structure of the Survey. Unfortunately, one fieldworker alone could not have covered the necessary ground quickly enough.83

The next best alternative would have been to follow the example of the Linguistic Atlas of New England, and to create a large team of fieldworkers from scratch using persons who had had no prior prejudicial training, who were all trained at the same time and by the same people in phonetics, fieldwork technique, and IPA notation. They would have had a common set of prejudices and practices which would have made their findings as a group systematic and internally consistent, and they could have been sent to cover all of the sites within the Survey in one or two years, again enhancing the reliability of the findings. This option was far too expensive.84

The creation by Orton of a school of dialectology meant the creation of a body of traditions concerning method, practice and ethos which could itself ensure a high level of the continuity and consistency needed to maintain the reliability of the Survey. The degree of internal consistency in training and practice was further enhanced by retention of key personnel throughout the course of the Survey: six of the nine fieldworkers, and one of the two contributors, took their undergraduate degrees in dialectology directly under Harold Orton; eight, and perhaps nine of the collectors were trained in phonetics by P.A.D. MacCarthy, head of the University's Department of Phonetics;85 each fieldworker was inducted into the mysteries of the Questionnaire and its administration, and into the tasks and duties of the Survey, by prior fieldworkers; each received training and tutoring from Orton; and continuity and consistency was further enhanced by the active presence of Stanley Ellis from 1950 to the completion of the Survey. None of this could ensure `objective' collection of information. But it did ensure the highest attainable degree of consistency and system among the results; and with the tape-recordings for verification, and with the high level of comparability built into the Questionnaire, it has given the data a high degree of reliability.


The Fieldworker's Task


" takes something like a year of training to turn a phonetician and dialectologist into a satisfactory fieldworker…He must be fully aware of the aim and significance of every single question and fully understand the purpose and function of all the things and processes that he asks his informant to name. In addition to his academic qualities, certain personal qualities are essential: physical strength, energy, endurance, as well as integrity of mind, tact, powers of persuasion and unbounded enthusiasm for the work"

  • Harold Orton 1952b, pp. 8,9.

Selecting the locality

Once he or she had set out from Leeds, the fieldworker's first task was to select a village in which to conduct research. This was not necessarily straightforward, though guided by the list of provisional sites drawn up by Peter Wright over the Winter of 1949-50. By the time the fieldworker arrived in a pre-selected village it might well have become totally unsuitable. "In one pre-selected village in the Home Counties," for example


no work was possible: information in the latest gazetteer available did not include the fact that a large firm of contractors had virtually torn down the old village to make way for a new dormitory suburb of London.86


On the other hand, a perfectly suitable village might have no accommodation, and because Orton stressed the importance of actually living in the village one was investigating the fieldworker might then have to find another village near enough to fit into the geographical criteria in which he could find a room. Orton emphasised the need to stay in the village being investigated because


the informants, helpers and advisers usually like a field worker to live amongst them during the few days allocated to the particular locality and thus have the opportunity of getting to know him. Moreover, they also like to discuss amongst themselves their (totally unexpected) visitor and his extraordinary mission, as well as to assess his quality as a person. He accordingly openly shows himself in the locality and does not hesitate to pass the time of the day with the inhabitants, but of course only when they themselves indicate that such a familiarity would not be unwelcome.87


It was important in terms of the efficient use of time, and it meant that the fieldworker could pick up useful bits of information about the area and about informants or conditions which might affect the results of the Survey. It was also more conducive to the master-pupil relationship which Orton felt was so important, with the researcher very much in the position of pupil to the dialect-speaker and to the community.88

The choice of a village could ultimately rest also on whether or not enough suitable informants could be recruited. This might not be straightforward: there were few in any village who would meet all of the criteria of the Survey,89 and the fieldworker might be mistaken for anything from an escaped convict to an officer of the Inland Revenue and knock on the door only to find "no one at home". 90

There was also the problem of the many English dialect speakers for whom their dialect was "a private grief",91 a source of ridicule and a badge of shame, something they kept hidden, and certainly from outsiders. If he was given a hearing the fieldworker often had to convince the potential informant of his or her sincerity, conveying the seriousness of the inquiry and the value of the oldest and most local way of speech while simultaneously assessing the person's suitability for the Survey.92

Choosing a village was therefore far from simple, though Stanley Ellis wrote that "the experienced fieldworker soon develops a facility for deciding upon the suitability of a place...".93 Given the timetable within which the Survey was being conducted, the fieldworker was expected to make his choice, to settle into the village, and to find a first informant within the course of the first working day. 94


Finding, selecting and recruiting informants

Having decided upon a village, and having found accommodation, the fieldworker then began the process of finding potential informants - accosting the first likely-looking old person, or gathering names and addresses from postmen, policemen, publicans - and then simply knocking on doors. If the person answered the door, met the criteria of the Survey and was willing to help, the fieldworker would make an appointment to return with part of the Questionnaire. No informant was offered or given money in return for help: the Survey consists of information freely and voluntarily given.95 But it was a time-consuming process. Even if the person who answered the door did not meet the strict criteria of the Survey, they were potentially a useful source of information and might profitably be engaged in conversation. On the other hand, in bringing a conversation to a close the fieldworker had to avoid any sense of abruptness or rudeness in order to avoid damaging his reputation in the village. It was a delicate process involving fine judgement and much time96

Though on rare occasions a single informant might be found who met the criteria for informants, and who had the time, health and interest to answer the entire Questionnaire, it more often required two or three, and on occasion as many as tour or even five, simply because of availability.97 Orton noted that


...the work can rarely begin until early in the afternoon. Many informants seem to be disinclined to be disturbed before midday. If women, they have household duties to cope with; if they are men who have given up working there is often nowhere at home to sit down in peace, for menfolk get in the way of a busy housewife who wants to clean up the living room - and at that time of the morning it cannot be left in possession of the husband and his caller for anything like the 1 1/2 to 2 hours needed by the fieldworker to get any of the nine books of the Questionnaire satisfactorily answered. Accordingly, in the mornings the fieldworker is busy with his affairs and his administration, and does not begin his daily recordings until the afternoon. But recording in the evening produces by far the best results, for it is then that the informant can take his ease in his own living-room, along with his wife, and perhaps an adult son or daughter. No longer does it surprise us to find that a recording in the informant's home can be of such interest as to draw the other members of the family into the inquiry. They too want to hear the good old words and phrases evoked by the Questionnaire. All our informants and their families are usually astonished, and sometimes fascinated, by the content of their own vocabulary.98


Stanley Ellis found in Lincolnshire that because of their "amazing vitality. .. it was often difficult to obtain informants for sessions during the day",99 giving the example of "Mr. Shortland, of Lutton, aged 92 [who] was only to be seen in the evening as he was out at work, hedge-trimming and gardening, during the day..." 100 It was frequently the case that many of the most suitable informants, even in their 70s and 80s, could only be seen in the evenings because they worked. Consequently,


in order not to waste time in a village, it was often necessary to use people who were not quite so suitable from the point of intelligence for meetings during the day. Such people needed more pressure and the work for the field-workers was harder, but the dialect material gained was in the end equally reliable and valuable. 101




The sheets used by fieldworkers for manually recording information were directly descended from those used by Bailes.102 Heading the sheet were places for the date, location, informant's name, fieldworker's name, and section of the Questionnaire being answered, and the sheet itself was divided into two halves by a line running top to bottom, with five boxes on the left and five on the right. The boxes on the right were used to record "incidental" or illustrative material, e.g.:


notes on the informant's attitude to questions and his promptness in answering, sketches of tools and implements shown by him, as well as a good deal of additional incidental information in phonetic script, notes about words or grammatical constructions used in conversation, alternative pronunciations of words, and so on. Any information which the fieldworker thinks may be of use to the editors may be put down here. 103


In the boxes on the left the fieldworker recorded the informant's responses to the Questionnaire, using International Phonetic Association notation, recording "as accurately and minutely as he can, without attempting to normalise his transcriptions or interpret his auditory impressions in terms of a phonemic system." 104

Although the fieldworker wrote down the first response to each question, "ours is a survey with an historical bias; that is we are not always satisfied with the first answer the informant may offer."105 An informant, for example, might try to satisfy the fieldworker with a modified standard form of a word, in which case the fieldworker would probe to get at older usage. Stanley Ellis cited the informant who


In the questioning for the Questionnaire ... was under constant pressure for the older forms, and in a short time gave the older forms readily at the first time of asking, for, as he said with a smile, "If I don't tell you the first time, I get asked again."106


This pressure was a part of "conditioning", the process of preparing the informant to consistently give the oldest or most deeply dialectal form of a word. This involved building trust, getting across the aim of the Survey, perhaps offering examples of the type of thing wanted, and keeping the informant honest and on his toes in a friendly and cooperative manner.

"Conditioning" required the fieldworker to have made a close study of earlier dialectological work in the area in order to know what linguistic forms he might reasonably expect to find; and it required an expert ear, and all of the personal qualities listed by Orton in the quote with which this section opened.



The expense and time involved in tape-recording meant that in general only one informant from each location was taped. 107 While conducting the written interviews, therefore, the fieldworker was also assessing which informant would be "the best" for recording; that is, those "who normally speak good, traditional dialect and can tell interesting stories and reminiscences".108

Early experience showed that it was best to introduce the topic of tape-recording only once a firm relationship with the informant had been established and his trust firmly secured: "To attempt such recordings in the early stages of investigation" observed Michael Barry as late as 1960, "was found to be most unwise",109 because the informant often refused or became so anxious as to make the recording unrepresentative.

Introduced properly, however, tape-recording (like manual recording) could turn into a full-scale social occasion ("The recordings at Willoughton were made with five people in the room, those at Swinstead with eight..."110 ), "and in fact it adds to the ease of the interview if the informant knows that he is surrounded by friends."111 Part of the fieldworker's task in these instances was to head-off any tendency towards "hilarity and chatter" by "a firm attitude and a friendly insistence on silence".112

In the course of recording, the fieldworker's job was to elicit as much free-flowing speech as possible, both for its own sake and to give the fieldworker as rich a choice as possible when it came to editing the recording down to the ten or twelve minutes which (again for reasons of cost) were all that could be selected for permanent preservation.113 This meant, as Gunnel Melchers (who made a special study of the recordings in the late 1960s) remarked, "A certain amount of `steering'" in which in "general the aim could be described as `eliciting as much factual information about farming, local industries, and folk life'" as possible.114 The presumption was that these subjects were those the informants knew best and could most freely discuss. 115



With recording done, which might take the better part of a week to eight days, there came the problem of parting, and with it perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of fieldwork:


The personal relationships ... created cause a great deal of emotional strain on the fieldworker. Within three or four days he becomes intimately associated with his informants, he learns their background, family history, many of their sorrows and their hopes for themselves and their children. He must himself reveal some of his own family circumstances, the reason for doing this work, the prospects for the future and so on. At the end of a week he leaves the locality having become greatly attached to his new acquaintances, and they regard him as a good friend, urging him to come back and see them again.116


At least in the early days the fieldworkers would formally acknowledge the parting and the gifts of time and interest the informants had given by leaving small gifts, such as fruit, tobacco, snuff.117 Letters and Christmas cards might be exchanged; indeed correspondence might be kept up for years. Recent queries in local newspapers show that the memory of the fieldworkers' visits remain strong and warm ones within the families of at least some of those interviewed thirty years ago and more.118

For their part, according to Orton, the informants


will have almost overnight come to realise that their own local forms of speech, something they for years may have been privately accustomed to look down upon, and even to disparage openly, had not only long tradition behind it, but also had an absorbing interest and value to people far beyond the circle of their own acquaintances.119


"The saddest part for a fieldworker," Stanley Ellis wrote in 1953, "is when, as recently, I revisited a village that I first went to some two years ago and found that three of my four informants had died." It was a sadness mitigated by the knowledge "that many of the old words and expressions had been collected from those men at the very end of their lives, literally snatched from oblivion, for those old men were the only ones in the village who were at all capable of giving the help required."120

The fieldwork experience was a uniquely challenging, exciting and exhausting one. 121



The fieldworker's task did not end until he drew up his fieldnotes, checked his recordings, and then sent them to Orton for scrutiny. Orton would go over the recording books, making notes or raising questions. In the light of these the fieldworker, in red ink, would make any additions or corrections which he felt were necessary. The recording books would then go back to Leeds, where they were bound separately, locality by locality, into recording books of about a hundred pages each.122

Similarly, the tape-recordings of unscripted material were edited as work went along, although the principles involved were somewhat different. The cost of materials and specialised storage was so high, and the survival (especially at the beginning) of the tape medium so uncertain,123 that it was necessary to select from each recording about ten to twelve minutes of the best and most useful bits for re-recording onto gramophone discs - initially, 78 rpm shellac discs, and then, from the 1960s, on 33 1/3 rpm 12 inch double-sided discs. As tape became more reliable, it became the medium of preservation and storage.124 Henry Ellis, the Phonetics Department technician, made the actual gramophone copies - one for listening, one for pristine storage and, while he was still alive, one for Eugen Dieth to take back to Switzerland for study.125 All of these have subsequently been re-transferred to cassette tapes. Recurrent plans for publication of selections from the recordings have not yet come to fruition.


Editing: Dr. Wilfrid Halliday

From 1952 to 1962 Orton had the voluntary help of Dr. Wilfrid Halliday in editing the field reports. Halliday also co-edited Volume 1 of the Basic Material with Orton.

Halliday was "a former member of the staff of the University's Extra-Mural Department, recently retired from the Headship of Pudsey Grammar School and Chairman of the Yorkshire Dialect Society."126 He was ten years older than Orton, but like Orton was a Northerner, who had been severely wounded in the First World War, as a consequence of which he too had barely escaped amputation of a limb. And also like Orton, he carried the results of this wound with little complaint. 127

Halliday had become Joint Honorary Secretary of the Yorkshire Dialect Society in 1920, and was its Honorary Editorial Secretary from 1924; in 1947 he handed over to Orton as Editor of the Society's Transactions. In the 1930s he was "responsible for a plan to record on disc dialects spoken in many areas of Yorkshire; five localities were recorded ... and the discs survive ... In 1947 he was awarded an honorary degree for his services to dialect scholarship."128 But according to Stanley Ellis his greatest contribution was in the tremendous work he did for the English Dialect Survey.

There has apparently been no detailed discussion of this work. Stanley Ellis speaks of "the enormous voluntary task shouldered by Doctor Halliday",129 and says that during term time, when Orton was heavily involved with teaching and "could spare little time during the day for appearances in the `Dialect Room'", Halliday "worked alone, but by no means anonymously, and every one connected with the Department was very conscious of what work was going on."130 He was thanked in at least one fieldworker's thesis,131 and John Waddington-Feather, who took his B.A. in 1954, writes that he was "Orton's right-hand man and I don't believe enough credit has ever been given Halliday for the tremendous amount of work he did for Orton in those early days." 132 It is clear that a full description of Halliday's role in the Survey and in the Leeds dialect programme is long overdue.



Part 3

"Yes. I think that's adventure."

Some Experiences of Fieldwork in England, 1949-1960



Peter Wright (transcribed from tape-recorded interview, 22.12.1989)


There was a time, we were in Muker in the North Riding, and after we'd finished the day's work - again I think, yes, there were only the two of us, Harold Orton and myself.

We'd done our recordings, and were based in the village pub. It was quite late at night, and he wanted to watch some domino players, some old shepherds who were playing dominoes, and I couldn't really understand why he had this tremendous interest just in dominoes, because it's a pretty simple game. And afterwards he said to me, although I hadn't noticed this meself - I must have been rather dense, I hadn't noticed it - he said that some of these shepherds were using numbers, the old sheep-scoring numbers. I can't really vouchsafe for that cause I never heard them, but I think it must have been true, that there must have been a little snatch of some sheep-scoring numbers. They weren't counting, you know - one two three four - nothing like that; but he said that was happening, so I think it was probably true, although all the other records we have suggest that those numerals died out a long long time ago, they're generally supposed to be always up the next remote valley. No one's ever met them in person. So he probably met just a bit of them, and I must've heard them, although I didn't realise, just realise what they were at the time. That was at Muker.

It's the extraordinary things that you feel so pleased about, although I suppose they come so rarely they can't affect dialect very much. But when they do - like finding the 'utch' in Dorset. The - when they were, when I gave my notice in, three month's notice to the University, finish, they naturally wanted to make good use of me. They sent me on a grand tour of the South and I could choose within reason where I wanted, and I had read from [A.J.] Ellis of the `Land of Utch', where they say utch, it seemed, for "I", and I couldn't believe this - how could anybody go on talking in the ordinary way, utch for "I"? It was just incredible - even to your own family, I didn't believe it.

But I specially descended on a place near Yeovil, in a small place near Marriott, `Land of Utch', with a tape recorder, and I heard it, I heard it from farmers there, and the tape recorder heard it. It wasn't, not much of an utch, more like an ootsch, ootsch, ootsch be gwain, ootsch, and the families themselves knew that, say, their father said something in an odd way, they didn't - they knew what it meant - but they didn't realise quite what, how he'd said it. So it was there.

And the sound ch, the guttural, the palatal, at Heptonstall, the Pennines, something like switch the licht on. Anyway the ch sound for the 'gh' still surviving. Yes. I think that's adventure.



FIELDWORK NARRATIVE #2: Isle of Man 1952-54

Ian Whittaker (from letters of 20.11.1989 and 11.12.1989)

I did an undergraduate thesis on "The Dialect of Dalby and Glen Maye" (hamlets on the west coast of the Island) using the questionnaire, phonetics and a weighty and cumbersome tape recorder, terrifyingly fragile, which I manhandled on several occasions from Leeds to Douglas by train and boat. The fact that some of the cottages I visited had no electricity and that battery recorders were then (1952-54) unheard of was beside the point.

The first and greatest problem I encountered in my researches was that of finding a suitable community to study. Manx villages in the early fifties were very small by English standards and Harold Orton insisted that his students found a settlement where there were at least six informants with all of the following qualifications: age over 70; residence from birth in a community sufficiently remote to ensure linguistic isolation (holidays of up to 2 weeks per year were allowed!); still in possession of their own teeth in good repair; reasonable intelligence. Finding such people in an island community of 50,000 inhabitants, most of whom lived in the towns, proved no easy task. I spent a vacation lugging one of the massive and fragile Departmental tape-recorders literally from end to end of the island, finding perhaps four suitable persons here, two there, three elsewhere and so on. Rather than allow me to base my research on too small a sample, Prof. Orton finally agreed that the two hamlets of Dalby and Glen Maye, albeit their centres were about one mile apart, could be deemed a single linguistic area so that I could acquire the minimum number of qualified informants. (The teeth proved the greatest disqualifying factor!).

Having at last fixed on my area, I was next faced with a vacation spent commuting daily from my home in Douglas (some 12 miles away) with the precious recorder bouncing on the back seat of a pre-war Morris `8', still on the road by virtue of having been `laid up' for the duration of the war and borrowed from my father when he did not need it himself. I don't think any of the informants (two in their mid-eighties and one ninety years old - born 1863) had seen a tape recorder before (it was high-tech even to me) and the danger of inducing strokes and heart-attacks when they heard their own voices was a constant possibility to my youthful mind. The confusion induced in the elderly folk by the experience often disoriented them at least for the remainder of my visit.

A further problem arising from the use of the tape-recorder was the fact that two, I think, of the cottages I visited had no electricity and battery-operated machines were not in circulation. One informant living in a basic thatched cottage, the nonagenarian Mrs. Quayle, appeared so useful that I contrived to move her to the house of a neighbour some 100 yards away so that I could make recordings. This involved a week's notice and an excursion further from her home than she had made in years. I remember fearing that I would do her untold harm, but the worst effect was to render her, in her confusion, much less articulate than she had been by her own fireside. The final irony was that on a subsequent visit, I learned that she had lived in Dalby for a mere 75 years or so, having been brought up in the south of the island; I could not, therefore use the material I obtained from her, but her voice does appear in conversation on one of the records.

Perhaps my fellow students experienced problems like the above. One that had to be unique to me was that the informants and their families took some convincing that it was their English I was anxious to hear. They all knew that scholars were interested in the preservation of Manx, then in more danger of total extinction than it is today, but to be told that it was "just the way you talk to me in English that I want to know about" made some, I am sure, doubt my sanity. English was English was English! What was the young man about? That's what we all talk, isn't it?!

Having eventually overcome the suspicion that I was either mad or a charlatan, I found the villagers very hospitable - at least, from my second visit onwards. After my initial visit, they did their homework: THEY researched ME. Once it was established that I was the grandson of a Whittaker who had been a school-master at Dalby school in the late nineteenth century and that my father was the man who sold some of them timber etc. at a Douglas builders' merchants and that I came from a `respectable' Methodist family and was training, in Leeds, as a local preacher under Rev. Rex Kissack, the university chaplain and himself a well-known Manxman, the initial suspicion vanished and hitherto closed doors and closed mouths opened to allow a flow of dialect that was music to my ears.

Other problems which arose: could I legitimately use Mr. X, who although qualified under the Orton criteria, had spent his working life fishing the Irish Sea and occasionally landing at Irish ports? Would an ex-seaman of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co. sailing between Man, Liverpool, Fleetwood, Ardrossan, Belfast and Dublin be acceptable? How could I relax certain informants so that they did not put on their best accent for `the man from Leeds'? (falling into my own broadest vernacular proved the best way.) There was the apparently ideal informant in the isolated farm-house who set the dogs on me; there were interested villagers in their sixties who wanted to get in on the act but (incomprehensibly to them) were deemed too young.



FIELDWORK NARRATIVE #3: Yorkshire 1952-54

John Waddington-Feather (from letter of 23.11.1989)

I remember being pushed in the direction of an elderly farmer above Haworth - a real old Joseph - and his door opened about an inch. His gnarled face peered out and he eyed me suspiciously a while before asking, "Are ta frae t'tax?" I'd passed a sheep which had some barbed wire caught round its leg not 100 yards from his door and I mentioned this to him, after I'd assured him I wasn't "frae t'tax". "It's net mine!" he observed tartly and I suspect he thought I was soft borrowing a pair of rusty clippers from him, which were in the wall, to cut away the barbed wire later...

At another farm, near Hawes, I'd been directed to a retired waller called Robinson, who was in his seventies. I found the farm and enquired after Mr. Robinson from the very hale and hearty elderly gentleman who welcomed me. "That's me," he said and invited me in; but when I started discussing drystone walling, which was the topic for my dialect research, he said, "Nay, it's net me thoo wants. It's lad!" He was t'lads's father and was in his late nineties!

Another informant lived in a hovel of a farm above Silsden and had grass growing through the rug covering his stone floor. The house reeked of hens, and I discovered several wandering freely around; even one laying on the Victorian York range inside. He sat in an old Windsor chair with a shawl around his shoulders and simply threw some coal on the fire when it was needed, raking out the ash with an old coal-rake, further into the room. The mound of ash was already protruding a yard onto his living room floor, and when he finished drinking his tea, he chewed the tea-leaves then threw the last bit of tea onto the ash-heap. He used to offer me tea in a black-stained mug, scalding the tea in the mug. I sent up a prayer with every mouthful...



FIELDWORK NARRATIVE #4: Norfolk 1956-57

Prof. W.N. Francis (from "Collecting Broad Norfolk", Francis 1959a, by permission)

Three years ago, when I first met Professor Harold Orton of Leeds University at a Summer session of the University of Michigan, I had no idea that the acquaintanceship would ultimately lead me into the villages of rural Norfolk. Professor Orton was a visiting lecturer at the summer session of the Linguistic Institute at Ann Arbor, where I had come for study and research in English linguistics.

In the course of his lectures he expressed the hope that an American linguist would come to England to help in the work of the linguistic atlas of which he was co-director. The invitation to spend a year in England, gaining experience in linguistic field work as well as first-hand knowledge of the diverse local dialects of English, seemed too good to pass over. Accordingly, with Professor Orton's encouragement, I applied for a Fulbright research fellowship. In due course, in September of last year, I found myself in Leeds, ready to go to work...

When I arrived at Leeds, Professor Orton told me that Norfolk had been reserved for me. The survey had begun in the north, and by September 1956 all the north, most of the Midlands and the southwest as far as Somerset had been covered. But East Anglia was virgin territory. Furthermore, it was hoped that an American ear might he tuned for words and expressions that might have been carried across the ocean by the Norfolk men who played such a large part in the early colonial settlements.

So while I brushed up my phonetics and became familiar with the questionnaire, I began to read about Norfolk. Hitherto the county had been little more than a name to me, though my literary and historical studies had built up associations with Sir John Fastolf and the Pastens, Sir Robert Walpole, the poet Cowper and of course Lord Nelson. Soon it was time for a first exploration into this new land, which was before long to become so real, so friendly and so familiar.

So it was that late in the twilit afternoon of Guy Fawkes Day I drove across the Lincolnshire marshes, crossed the Nene at Sutton Bridge and a few minutes later was among the Walpoles and Terringtons that are Norfolk's western outposts. It was dark when we reached King's Lynn and passed on through East Dereham to Norwich. So my first impressions of central Norfolk are of hedges and great trees by the roadside and cozy villages of red brick and flint, with roofs of thatch or red pantiles mottled with green lichen. Even these few things revealed by the car's headlights showed how different was this country from the moors and grey-stone villages I had seen in the West Riding.

The next day, while my wife and sons explored Norwich, I set out to make a tour of some of the villages I was later to visit. After considerable thought, these had been selected to present a representative cross-section of the county. The tentative selection had been made at Leeds, with an eye to spacing the localities to be recorded at even intervals of 15 to 20 miles, avoiding urban areas and regions where local dialect might have been too much disrupted by `foreigners' from distant regions like Suffolk or even `the sheers'.


But it was up to me to make sure that the villages picked out on the map were really suitable - that is, were places where I could stay four or five days and find a handful of natives of the village, at least 65 years old, who naturally spoke the local dialect and had time and inclination to answer my 1300 questions.

Two things I found out on this first day's dip into rural Norfolk. The first was that strangers are such a novelty in Norfolk villages that finding lodgings is a serious problem to those with no other transport than buses and `Shank's pony'. The other was that Norfolk people are fond of their local speech and eager to help anyone whose interest in it is serious and sincere. I came to look for the slow smile that lighted the faces of villagers as I made it clear that my purpose was to record and preserve genuine `broad Norfolk', and I was seldom disappointed.

In the post offices, pubs and shops of village after village it never failed that all present turned themselves into a temporary committee to give me the names of prospective informants. Many of the people suggested failed to come up to the rather exacting requirements of the survey - they were not natives of the village or they had lost their native `broad Norfolk' through schooling or too much association with the gentry or they were too deaf to hear the questions.

But in each of my 12 villages I eventually found two or three who completely filled the bill and who patiently submitted to my endless questioning. Thanks to the patience and interest of these 30-odd native Norfolkers, many of them over 80, broad Norfolk is now on record.

This is not the place to discuss the linguistic results of the survey. But as I look back across the months to that first November day I am impressed by how accurately my first impressions were borne out. I have lived for four days to a week in 12 different villages, from Ludham on the edge of the Broads to Outwell in the fens, from Dry Docking on the high chalkland to Reedham on the brink of the marshes over against Great Yarmouth.

I have sat by the fire in many a cottage kitchen and drunk innumerable cups of tea with the ordinary people who have worked on the land and are the salt of the earth. In spite of the intrusive nature of my mission, I have invariably been treated courteously and hospitably. In many cases I have made friends from whom I parted with real emotion. So what to others are only 12 dots among the 300 on the dialect map of England - the `Norfolk network' - are to me 12 places where I have friends and can be, not a stranger in a strange land, but an adopted Norfolk man at home.



FIELDWORK NARRATIVE 135: Wales 1959-1960

David Parry (from letter of 22.1.1990)

I came at the end of the line, in 1959. Fieldwork in England had been almost completed, and I was to "open up" (H.O.'s phrase) English-speaking Wales by doing Radnorshire. As an imported graduate from Sheffield, where at that time training in phonetics was rather rudimentary only, I did a crash course with Mr. MacCarthy in my first term. Also I was sent by Prof. O. for a few days' apprenticeship with Michael Barry, then based in Maldon while investigating Little Baddow. There were exhilarating rides as his pillion passenger on the famous SED motor-bike (the use of which was later offered to me, Mr. Thomson even offering to contribute a helmet, but wearing the helmet was the only part of the skill that I could master, hence the machine was stabled after Maldon). Michael also instructed me informally in the ways of H.O. et al, and on a free afternoon we took the opportunity of ascertaining whether the exchanges between Byrhtnoth and the wicinga ar reported by the poet could really have taken place given the length of the brycg. (They could, given meteorological conditions similar to those of that afternoon.) Field-work during those few days was partly al fresco as one informant clearly preferred it to be like that. I was allowed to practise asking some of the questions, and quickly learned never to say `No' on receiving an unwanted response.

My own field-work began in January 1960. Having found somewhere to stay near Builth Wells, I walked over to a neighbouring village, talked to a man working in his garden, outlined my project to him, and asked if he could direct me to any suitable informants. I then called at the house to which he immediately directed me, was admitted by the man of the house and his wife and allowed to say what I wanted, but was given a very frosty reception indeed. Disappointed, I went back to my lodging for lunch and, on telling my landlady exactly where I had been, was told the history of the household concerned - a history of incestuous union within the house, known, like so much in Radnorshire, by the community at large over a wide area of the surrounding and sparsely-populated countryside, but of course Not Talked About. All subsequent approaches in Radnorshire met with success however; all was kindness and courtesy of the highest degree. Oil lamps and calor gas still held sway in most areas outside the "big towns" of Llandrindod, Rhayader, New Radnor and Knighton, so most of such tape-recording as got done had to wait till a later date. The lack of success with the motor-bike I mentioned meant dependence on such public transport as there was, and charity - of which there was much. Many drivers, seeing a solitary walker on the country roads going in the same direction as themselves, automatically stopped. "Jump in bwoy - I can take you as far as X". I never "thumbed" a lift. However, if for some reason nobody seemed to be stopping, one simply gave up walking and broke into a run - that never failed. One's "fare" for these journeys was paid in the form of conversation about oneself: they saw a stranger and simply wanted to know all about him.

At one village in Radnorshire the field-work with one informant was done over the counter of the post-office - during opening hours; there was no-one but the informant (the post-mistress's father) and me there all afternoon. Miss P herself simply retreated to the back garden where her flock of sheep was grazing ("Give me a shout if there should be any customers") till she came in at about 4.30, spread a tablecloth over the counter, and served tea and bread-and-butter.

Back at the Buildings in Leeds, Radnorshire completed and plenty of time still left, I said I wanted to do more places in Wales, was encouraged to do so, and eventually covered Breconshire, Glamorganshire, and two more places (than those done by Sykes) in Monmouthshire (including a very little work also with an elderly auntie in Newport, which I never intended to get into SED and was horrified to find had got in, as it was so fragmentary - 28 Mon 7: `n.a.' passim).

A gentleman in a Gower locality kept saying things like leapth, lookth, goth: I suspected lisping but observed later that /s/ everywhere else was ordinary [s] and realised this was a relic from - presumably - the small tract of Somersetshire that Wright had said in 1905 retained in [Q] and [3]: certainly there were plenty of families whose ancestors had moved thence to the Gower in the 19th century and before.

There was always, too, what one might call the " 'Ave a bit o' dinner?" side of field-work: hospitality was amazing in most places, also invitations to call again, socially, when field-work had been completed.

Back at Leeds, the Dept. of English Language and Medieval English Literature had just moved from an old house to a building that was new then, on the side of what I think is called University Road, opposite the side of the Parkinson Building. The Eng. Lang. floor had lecturers' rooms opening off a central hall that was laid out for newspaper-reading and as somewhere to sit. The postgrad. research room was at the end, with a view of a fire-escape ladder of considerable ornateness for modern architecture. Here we were allowed to work, if we wished, late into the night, well provided with dictionaries, lamps and phonetic-keyed typewriter. Access to the Departmental lavatory at the other end was jealously guarded by H.O., those who were permitted it being provided with keys to lock it against wandering theologians from the floor above, after use. If you forgot to do this, Miss Cracknell, by some psychic power with which she was amply endowed, would know, and would stop you in your very returning tracks to remind you of this duty neglected and to enjoin its immediate rectification. Which reminds me how H.O. exhorted me once to "Look to my latrines" when he found me guilty of neglect of some unattractive yet very necessary spadework preliminary to some project on which I was just embarking at the time. He was every inch a gentleman, to everyone. I, to my shame, sometimes treated him with less respect than was due to one of his consistent kindness to me, and have regretted it since. That apart, I treasure the memory of certain moments, certain scenes and occasions: being taken for afternoon tea to the cafe down the road from the College; being promised a copy of Wyld's Dictionary when I got married (which I didn't within H.O.'s lifetime but bought one as a kind of memorial when we did get married); being ribbed for my Newport [a:] till I gave in and adopted [a] in its place ... all this and much else. It truly was a privilege to be taught and supervised - and inspired - by such as he.


FIELDWORK NARRATIVE #6: An Informant's Surprise (1956)

The view of fieldwork as experienced by informants or their families are few and far between, and we are privileged to have received this family narrative in a letter from Mrs. Jacqueline Groves. Mrs. Groves' 84 year old Aunt Win recently described for her the visit in 1956 of John T Wright (the fieldworker for Somerset) and Stanley Ellis to tape-record her father, Mrs. Groves' grandfather, Mr. George King of Blagdon:


Mr. Wright was a pleasant young man who lodged at the end of their lane with the saddler and shoe repairer a Mr. W. Saint and his wife. He would walk up the lane and chat to Grampa asking him what the local name was for everyday objects in the home and on the land. Grampa really enjoyed his visits and some of his words and expressions were of great interest to Mr. Wright.

On the day that the recording was actually made, Grampa and my Aunt Win were in the process of taking out the old kitchen grate and putting in a range which apparently they had got second hand. My Grandfather was the sort of man who could turn his hand to anything, especially with his very practical daughter's help. They were both very sooty, in their oldest working clothes and the kitchen was in a dreadful mess when there was a knock on the back door and when Aunt Win opened it she was very surprised to see Mr. Wright with Mr. Stanley Ellis who had come to take the recording.

Aunt Win was rather ashamed of the mess they were in but remembered her manners and invited the two men into the front room so that they could talk to Grampa. In reply to their questions he kept saying "Bain't that right Winnie?" which made her feel more embarrassed as she didn't want her voice spoiling the recording, so she just answered with a very quiet "Yes". Mr. Wright asked Grampa if he could take a photograph of him and seeing Grampa's look of horror that he might have to wash and change in the middle of the working day he hastily said "Just as you are" so I'm sure the result must have been worth seeing!

Just as Mr. Ellis was playing the recording back to them the door opened and in walked my Grandmother, who as she could never stand the house in an upheaval had been sent to the next village to spend the day with my Mother. Aunt Win says she will never forget the look of horror on Grandma's face as she found work on the range suspended, the kitchen in chaos and her husband and daughter in their dirty working clothes drinking tea with two visitors. Grandma was a force to be reckoned with I can tell you and the whole family has enjoyed many a laugh about her comments to the pair of them when she got them on her own!



Part 4

Harold Orton: A Celebration


"I actually regard the meeting with Harold Orton in 1966 as a turning point in my life. The insight into spoken language, and, above all, the contact with speakers of nonstandard dialects and their cultural background, has enriched my life and changed my way of looking at my fellow-beings."

  • Gunnel Melchers (1988)


As part of the research for this study we contacted a number of former members of the SED and Institute team for their thoughts and memories. We also sent a letter to 265 newspaper groups throughout England and the Isle of Man in an attempt to connect with former informants of the Survey or, more likely, their younger friends and members of their family. This letter appears to have been published in quite a few local papers, and although there were relatively few responses from the target group (the aim was no doubt poor), there was a remarkably wide response from people who had known or been students of Harold Orton, several of whom had been his students before he joined the faculty at Leeds.

There were also responses from people who had met him only briefly, but on whom he left an indelible imprint. One of these was Mr. RV. Flower, whom Orton may have been sizing up as a potential informant:


Some years ago, my wife and I had been visiting an aunt of ours at Wincanton which is in Somerset. On our way home we called in The Bell and Brown in Zeals, which is in Wiltshire, for a pint before going home to Gillingham which you will note is in Dorset.


After some time in the inn, a gentleman got up from the table where he had been having something to eat and came across to me and said he was Professor Orton from Leeds University. He asked me if I was local, I told him I lived a couple of miles away in Gillingham. He said he knew from the way I was talking, that it was very interesting to him to hear the Dorset dialect. He told me that the way I spoke was more English than the Oxford Dictionary.


But I don't speak the dialect like my father, and my children don't use it at all I told him, it's slowly but surely dying out.


"More's the pity" he said "I would love to have a long chat with you but I am rather pushed for time."


He wished us goodnight and left.


There were echoes of this encounter, one almost certainly referring to a visit from Prof. Orton during the August 1949 tests of the questionnaire undertaken by Harold Orton, Eugen Dieth, Fritz Rohrer and Peter Wright in Marshside, Lancashire:


Your letter brought back memories of the University Professor who interviewed my grandfather and grandmother when I was 5 or 6 years old (I am 45 now). My grandmother had chided me for saying `waiter' instead of `water' and the gentleman reproved her saying that these old dialects would be lost if they were not used.

  • P.J. Pilling


And it is just possible that a third letter, from 85 year old Mrs. C. Jacobson, reflects a sixty year old encounter with Orton on Tyneside:


...during the early Nineteen Twenties one or two gentlemen maybe Profs at one of the colleges were interested in making records of the dialect and storing them away for years to come.


They said it was better grammar than that of many other dialects, especially London, and worth preserving.


That there was this particular tradition of "more English than the Oxford Dictionary" is of interest. Of equal interest is the clear impact of the comment, remembered twenty, forty, sixty years later: it raises the issue of the role of the dialect researchers, and particularly of the English Dialect Survey, in enhancing awareness, pride and the chances of survival of dialect among dialect speakers. Peter Wright, first Research Assistant for the Survey, made the comment in a recent interview that he had spent the first part of his career trying to save dialect. Although it doesn't appear in the publications of the SED, this attempt to save and promote the use of dialect was clearly an important, unstated aim of Orton's Dialect Survey.


Orton as Teacher


"I cannot stress how grateful I am to have been `taught' by him..." - Sue Powell


Many of the responses to our newspaper query were recollections of Harold Orton as a teacher. Indeed, we have reflections from each period of his teaching career apart from the four years, 1924-1928, in which he was lektor in English at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. From 1928-1939 he was lecturer in English at Armstrong College, Newcastle, later King's College of Durham University, and now University of Newcastle. From 1939-1946 he was lecturer in charge of the Department of English Language at the University of Sheffield - three of these years being spent on war-time secondment to the British Council (1942-44, Deputy Education Director; 1944-45, Acting Education Director). In 1946 he moved to the University of Leeds as Professor and Head of the Department of English Language and Medieval English Literature. I-le retired in 1964, but continued to work as the Honorary Editor of the Survey of English Dialects until his death in 1975.

Dorothy C. Mitchell was taught by him soon after he returned from Uppsala, at Armstrong College. She remembered him as


a very personable young man, not very long married and with a delightful small daughter.


From the first lecture his enthusiasm was evident. He told us of his work at Uppsala, which for us would have been Ultima Thule...When he read to us (he had a beautiful voice) the "sound" came over so wonderfully - so phonology came to mean something.


His enthusiasm for the subject is a theme which echoes throughout his career. Ronald Kay, who had Orton as a teacher at Sheffield before the war, wrote of Orton, replacing the retiring A.L. Jones, "as a breath of fresh air". Jean F Lloyd, who had Orton during his brief period at Sheffield after the war, wrote that: "It was very exciting to be taught by him" and "within a few weeks, we had dubbed him `the phonetic fanatic'". Sue Powell, who worked as his research assistant on the Linguistic Atlas of England in the early 1970s, and who "very much felt I was being inducted into a tradition", wrote that "all of us who worked with Harold Orton couldn't fail to be affected and impressed by his force of character and absolute dedication to the Survey".

This point is also made by Ian Whittaker, who was in the Department at Leeds in the early 1950s, and who vividly remembered the first words Harold Orton spoke to him when he "arrived straight from school, without previous interview, as an undergraduate in his Department, namely: "So we've hooked a Manxman at last!" ":


He was a charismatic person, broad-minded and tolerant, and able to combine strict demands for precision and academic integrity with a disarming charm which endeared him to all who sat at his feet. He inspired by example: "What," he asked his class in December 1953, "shall you be doing on Christmas day?" (silence). "When I have had my lunch, I shall settle back in my study and work on the Survey." To twenty-year olds, this appeared a horrific suggestion ... and I doubt if any of us followed his example on that particular occasion.


In a telephone call from Newcastle Thomas Shanks spoke of Orton's charm, remembered after fifty years by a former apprentice at Armstrong College. Mr. Shanks remembered Orton's great vitality, and the fact that he used to "bubble with talk and voice"; while Ian Whittaker wrote of "his gentle, alluring tones".

Prof. Orton launched his dialect survey of Northumberland, a prototype of the future English Dialect Survey, while he was at Newcastle. Dorothy Mitchell was one of the students he sent into the field:


The directive was minimal. We were advised to contact `elderly' residents, tell them that we were helping to compile a dictionary of words that were fast going out of use and encourage them to chat. We had a notebook and pencil only, jotted down words and phrases (phonetically, if possible). These were then transferred to cards, with some attempt at derivation. We wrote our thesis around this `information' and ultimately the indexed cards found their way into the "stacks" in the college library - never again to see the light of day, I presume.


Now you will surely realise how crude our efforts were - In a way it was a sort of "social services". Nothing at all was laid on for us - nor did we expect anything. But all in all, it was most enjoyable - verily a small beginning!


A later student, John Waddington-Feather (B.A. 1954) commented:


...the survey was characterised very much by a sense of purpose and by an intense humanity. I think it was this aspect of my course at Leeds that attracted me to working under Orton, rather than the purely academic study which an Eng. Lit course would have entailed; although we also studied literature in depth. Getting out and about at weekends and in the holidays, interviewing informants and meeting people very different from the academics and students at university was a very attractive part of the English Language and Medieval Literature course I followed at Leeds. I think my abiding love for Old and Middle English literature was prompted very much by finding many aspects of the language those literatures were written in still being used in my native dialect. Whole dimensions of history - and life - were opened by my study of dialect in the field and at Leeds.


Ronald Kay, however, who had moved to Leeds as a university administrator, felt sorry for the young students whose intellectual development, already cramped by a narrow Yorkshire environment, was not helped by the pressure he put on them to help him with his dialect work, even in their undergraduate years, at a stage when they should have been opening their minds to art, music, philosophy, history etc.

Stanley Ellis expresses some sympathy with this view, and as a former student and then long-time colleague remembers


it was well known by all his teaching staff that he disapproved of any outings to cinema or theatre in termtime on weekday evenings, and they avoided mentioning any such pleasures at the daily cup of tea times in the Department.


Waddington-Feather, as another of the youngsters Orton gathered in, felt that he


owed a great deal to Harold Orton, who encouraged us in many directions. He became a personal friend and was always very much a father figure to us, a solid "rock" on which to found our academic futures. Socially, he helped us, too, as we entered rather more sophisticated circles than we were used to in our mill towns and pit villages.


Ronald Kay's career began immediately after the war, when Orton


recommended me for a post in the British Council, where I started off as a Lektor of English at the University of Copenhagen, before returning to what proved to be my main career in university administration in England.


As a student at Sheffield just before the war, Ronald Kay


had always found Orton approachable and friendly, with a real interest in student welfare. He was a scholar rather than a teacher, pointing the way rather than monitoring progress. This suited me, but with hindsight I think the system he knew and was brought up in was devised for the narrow purpose of training a handful of future scholars who would later pursue linguistic research.


As a research student just before his death, Sue Powell remarked on Orton's `teaching', which


took the form of his calling us out to his desk to explain the phonological development of a Middle English sound in the rural dialects of the mid-twentieth century or telling us linguistic anecdotes, which I still use today (the northerner who called his thatched roof /ak/ by metanalysis, or a faulty division of "the thack" (Northern form of thatch)). His style was informal but nevertheless didactic - though we were in our early twenties, we were treated as schoolchildren, and such was the force of his personality that we hardly resented it at all.


He was known for his tact, and his sense of propriety; in the 1949 test by himself, Dieth, Fritz Rohrer and Peter Wright of the Dieth/Orton Questionnaire he was the peace-maker; and was epitomised by Stanley Ellis later as "Adviser, cajoler, pressurizer (all these he had to be), father confessor to his fieldworkers, male and female, encourager of those who faltered" (Ellis 1968, p.4). Peter Wright


never saw him lose his temper. I suppose he must have done, inwardly many a time, but I've never seen him do that - In fact some of the ladies, his lady students, used to think he was perhaps if anything rather over-polite.


This gives a context for the concluding anecdote, related by John Waddington-Feather:


There used to be a library of tapes in the old English Language House, long since pulled down. Orton was very proud of these early tapes, which covered most English counties, and we used to listen to them on very early tape-recorders. The old Princess Royal, who lived at Harewood, and was Chancellor of the University, used to come round informally, as she was very fond of the University. She arrived unannounced at the dialect tape library one day when I and another student were there, and Orton casually picked a tape from the shelves to play for her. I think it was an old Oxford farm-labourer who was the informant and he began telling a very lavatorial tale about an outside lavatory and a joke they played on the village idiot who was inside it. He used very robust language, to say the least, and his joke was something about a balloon they shoved under the lavatory door and told the idiot (who'd never seen one) it was a fart with skin around it. The Princess listened with a very straight face, while Orton blushed scarlet. It was the one and only time I saw him nonplussed. Of course, we, too, had to keep our faces straight but were nearly killing ourselves laughing inwardly, for Orton couldn't take the tape off once he'd set it going. Mercifully, I don't think the Princess understood a word the informant said, his dialect was so "pure", but she thanked us graciously and said what interesting research it was the department was doing.





We have tried to stay away from too many abbreviations in the footnotes. Apart from standard conventions, those which we have adopted are:


BBC WAC: This indicates that the file subsequently cited is held in the BBC Written Archives Centre, Caversham Park, Reading.

UL/A : University of Leeds, University Archives

UL/OR: This indicates that the material is held in the Orton Room at the University of Leeds. The files in this room have not yet been archivally ordered and are not yet part of an archival system, and we have therefore not tried to break down location of specific documents any more closely than to indicate type (e.g., "Letter"), persons, and date.




  1. Widdowson 1990, p. 135.


  1. Ibid.


  1. Sanderson 1970d, p. 104.


  1. Upton, Sanderson and Widdowson 1987, p. 13.


  1. Widdowson 1990, p. 133.


  1. Wakelin 1972, "Introduction", p. 1.


  1. Dieth 1946, p. 78.


  1. F W. Moorman, Editorial, Transactions of the Yorkshire Dialect Society 2:13 (1913). Quoted in Waddington-Feather 1977, p. 14.


  1. Waddington-Feather 1977, p. 14.


  1. See Shimmin 1954.


  1. See, for example, J.M. Kirk, "Dialectology and Sociolinguistics in the 1980s", Lore and Language 9:1 (1990), pp 73-86; Petyt 1980, pp. 91, 93.


  1. Personal communication.


  1. Viereck 1968, p. 32.


  1. Dieth 1946, pp. 78-79.


  1. Dean 1953, p. xxvii.


  1. Dieth 1946, p. 80.


  1. See Orton 1929, p. 132.


  1. Including Annie Langrick 1948, from 1948 to 1975 there were 118 BA, MA and PhD theses and dissertations completed within the Leeds dialect programme. See UL/OR "Dialect Theses Held in the Library of the Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies, Leeds University: 1930-1978." The Institute also holds several dialect theses completed under Orton while he was at Armstrong College.


  1. See Part 2, footnote 76.


Part 1. The English Dialect Survey: Historical


  1. Orton 1957: Meeting, p. 316; "excellent monograph", p. 315.


  1. For information on Dieth, see Orton 1957; Straumann and Leisi 1953; Ludeke 1956. For information on Orton, see Doyle-Davidson 1964; Who's Who 1961; Ellis 1968a; Sanderson 1975b; Times obituary 11.3.1975.


  1. Orton 1931, p. 24. See also Orton 1930; Ellis 1968a, p. 2.


  1. Orton 1957, p. 316, says: "There followed quickly after him the first of his research students to undertake direct investigation of vernacular English; and others arrived later." Dieth 1946, p. 78, wrote "and it was Orton who took my two Zurich pupils, Wettstein and Zai (Nos. 16 and 17) to Chirnside (Bwk) and Morebattle (Rx)".


  1. BBC WAC R51/123, letter from 11. Orton to Ian Cox 9.8.1939: "...a Swiss professor of English who is an authority on the present-day dialects of NE Scotland" is referred to as a current houseguest. This is unquestionably Dieth. Orton mentions his move to Sheffield and new appointment in a letter to H.E. Milliken (School Broadcasts Executive) of 6.9.1939, in BBC WAC Talks:Harold Orton.


  1. See Orton, Sanderson and Widdowson 1978, Introduction (which is not paginated), first page.


  1. See Orton 1960, p. 331; Ellis 1962a, p. 6; and, for example, the above, in which the letter is cited and quoted on the first page and in footnote 1. We have not seen the Dieth-Orton correspondence ourselves.


  1. Quoted in Orton, Sanderson and Widdowson 1978, on the first page of the Introduction.


  1. See the above, on the second page.


  1. Orton 1947, p. 28.


  1. Dieth 1946, p. 102.


  1. Orton 1957, pp. 315-16.


  1. A complaint he made in Orton 1947, p. 27.


  1. UL/OR Letter, Harold Orton to Professor Wrenn 2.9. 1946.


  1. See Orton 1947.


  1. UL/OR Letter Harold Orton to FP Pickering, 11.12.1946. Orton 1970, p. 83.


  1. Dieth, in his letter to Orton of 21.7.1945, quoted in Orton, Sanderson and Widdowson 1978, first page of Introduction.


  1. Orton 1947, pp. 37-38, in a postscript dated 30.8.1947.


  1. Orton 1970, p. 81.


  1. Orton 1960, p. 333. Of the seven stages into which Orton said the task of constructing the Survey fell, the Questionnaire came first, and "the requisite money to finance the project" came last.


  1. UL/OR Letter L.R. Palmer to Harold Orton 26.6.1946. In a letter of 1.4.1991 Stanley Ellis writes that he remembers "Harold [Orton] talking about some contact with the Philological Society in the 1930's when the American Council of Learned Societies project for a North American linguistic atlas got under way. .. Orton mentioned some meetings that made him very tetchy with various people including Professor John Orr (of French at Glasgow I think). Again, the point was that they were very willing to enlist other people to do the work on their behalf without doing anything themselves or finding any money. He used to be rather scathing about the Phil. Soc. talking about the OED as "The Society's Dictionary", when it was really only a very small collection of their words that got into the OED."


  1. UL/OR Dialect-Survey Sub-committee draft report of meeting of 2.7.1946; Letter on behalf of Philological Society Council from A. Woodward to Harold Orton 20.7.1946.


  1. Draft minutes referred to in the footnote above.


  1. UL/OR Letter Harold Orton to Professor Wrenn 2.9.1946; letter Harold Orton to F.P. Pickering 11.12.1946


  1. Ibid.


  1. UL/OR Letter Harold Orton to Prof. Wm. J. Entwistle 7.1.1947. Compare this with statements made a month earlier in his letter of 11.12.1946 to FP Pickering referring to "the Planning Committee that was set up on Friday last..." and "I will certainly pass it [your suggestion] on to my colleagues of the Planning Committee before we meet."


  1. UL/OR See his letter to FP Pickering of 11.12.1946.


  1. UL/OR Letter Harold Orton to Wm. J. Entwistle 7.1.1947.


  1. UL/OR Letter Harold Orton to Daniel Jones 24.1.1947.


  1. Ibid.


  1. UL/OR. The scheme was presented and Orton was offered his appointment in a letter from L.R. Palmer of 15.3.1947. This letter mentions that Orton had not been at the last meeting. In his letter to Dieth of 19.3.1947 Orton said he had been unable to attend either of the two meetings "because of the traffic dislocation and general difficulties ... So, the action that has been taken by the Planning Committee has been without reference to me at all." e expresses his unhappiness in this and in a letter to L.R. Palmer of 18.3.1947.


  1. UL/OR Letter L.R. Palmer to Harold Orton 15.3.1947.


  1. UL/OR Letter Harold Orton to L.R. Palmer 18.3.1947.


  1. UL/OR Letter Harold Orton to Eugen Dieth 19.3.1947.


  1. UL/OR "Draft letter to Professor Kurath for Professor Wrenn's Approval", with Orton's autograph note: "Drafted by E.D. and H.O." and accompanying letter from Harold Orton to Prof. Wrenn of 2.9.1946.


  1. UL/OR Letter Harold Orton to Wm. J. Entwistle 7.1.1947.


  1. UL/OR Letter Harold Orton to Eugen Dieth 19.3.1947.


  1. UL/OR See letter to Dieth referred to above, and a powerful response to Orton from Prof. William P Milne in a letter of 26.3.1947.


  1. UL/OR Letter Harold Orton to Eugen Dieth 19.3.1947.


  1. This was the explicit advice of William Milne, in the letter cited in footnote 38 above.


  1. UL/OR "Philological Society, Minutes of the Council" of 10.2.1950, acting on report of Directors of the Dialect Survey.


  1. UL/OR "Philological Society: Report from the Directors of the Dialect Survey" 9.3.1952.


  1. Ibid.


  1. Orton, Sanderson and Widdowson 1978, second page of the Introduction, citing "Annual Report for 1953" Transactions of the Philological Society 1954 (Oxford, 1955), pp. 206-207.


  1. UL/OR Letter Harold Orton to the Bursar 23.6.1947.


  1. BBC WAC Talks:Harold Orton, Memo from Bob Gregson, Talks Department, North Region to Chief Producer, Talks Department, London 29.12.1949. Gregson had spoken with Orton in Leeds the week before. The programme "A New Survey of English Dialects" was transmitted on the 3rd Programme from 7.55-8.15 on 5.10.1950. See BBC WAC Script ORR-OTT Microfilm/Film T387/Talks:Scripts.


  1. Orton 1952b, p. 12.


  1. UL/OR Letter Harold Orton to the Bursar 23.6.1947.


  1. UL/OR Letters Harold Orton to John Lloyd Bailes 2.4.1947 and 9.4.1947; and to the Bursar 23.6.1947.


  1. Bailes 1948a, pp. i, ii, 72.


  1. Ibid., pp. ii, 8.


  1. Ibid., p. 9; see also p. 8.


  1. Ibid., pp. i, 2, 74-75.


  1. See Orton 1949, p. 32; Orton 1960, p. 333 fn 1; Orton 1962a, p. 9; Ellis 1962a, p. 549; Ellis 1956a; W.E. Jones 1949, p. iii.


  1. Bailes 1951, p. 11.


  1. E.g., Orton 1949; Orton 1952b; Orton 1953; Orton 1960; Orton 1963; Orton 1970; Ellis 1953; Ellis 1962a; Ellis 1962c; Sanderson 1977; Orton, Sanderson and Widdowson 1978.


  1. Peter Wright, recorded interview (with Craig Fees) 22.12.1989 cas 1b: "I've heard nothing about that. No results. I've never seen any result from Bailes at all, no. I don't know about that ... It was never referred to. Only his work on marble games [Bailes 1948b], that was all. No, I knew nothing about that side. Of course, I wouldn't be interested, I was just an English student coming up to my finals. I wouldn't know all of the happenings..."


  1. Orton 1960, p. 338, where he misdates Peter Wright's appointment to 1948.


  1. Peter Wright, recorded interview 22.12.1989 cas Ia.


  1. Problems with dating have been discussed in Appendix 1. Orton and Dieth 1952 said that Version 2 "was ready .. by the end of the summer of 1948" and that "It was V.2 that was subjected to a thorough and comprehensive trial in six different counties by a team of investigators." In Part 2, in the section on the Questionnaire, we point out that Peter Wright was under the impression that he was helping to create the original Questionnaire in 1949. The possibility that Version 2, with framed or set questions, was ready by the end of the summer of 1948 is enhanced by Bill Jones' statement in Jones 1949, p. iii, "...I found the method of question and answer suggested by Professor Harold Orton ideal. His own carefully framed questionnaire, which I was able to use for my enquiry, is a wonderful improvement on the old idea of word lists..." Jones began his fieldwork in the summer of 1948, though he began work with the Questionnaire later. e submitted his thesis in April 1949. Version 1 of the Questionnaire was, in effect, a word list, which suggests that he was possibly given a version or prototype of Version 2.


  1. As with Version 1, and in the Linguistic Atlas of New England upn which Orton and Dieth drew for other ideas.


  1. Peter Wright, recorded interview 22.12.1989 cas 1a.


  1. Wright and Rohrer 1968, p. 7.


  1. Peter Wright, recorded interview 22.12.1989 cas la.


  1. "Blitzkrieg" or "blitz" and "squatter" were Orton's terms for the two different methods of collecting dialect: with a Questionnaire on a brief visit; and slowly, through residence in the locality. Peter Wright, recorded interview 22.12.1989 cas 2a.


  1. "Missionary tour" is Peter Wright's term: Peter Wright, recorded interview 22.12.1989 cas Ia. Wright and Rohrer 1968, p. 8, speak of seven sites but list only six, a number which is confirmed, for example, by Orton 1960, p. 333 fn 1, and by the account book Orton kept of the tour, and which is in the Orton Room collection at the University of Leeds, from which the dates derive. In his interview and in correspondence Wright recalls collecting with both Dieth and Orton at other sites and on other occasions.


  1. Orton and Dieth 1952 (Orton 1962a, p. 44).


  1. BBC WAC R46/141 Letter Harold Orton to Timothy Eckersley 21.11.1949: "The Questionnaire is now ready, but the car and the recording apparatus have yet to be bought. But I am hoping, perhaps too optimistically, that we shall begin our serious investigation quite early in the New Year."


  1. In Orton and Dieth 1952 (Orton 1962a, p. 44 fn 1) it is stated that Wright carried out tests of Version 3 in Cumberland, Westmorland and Northumberland in 1949/50. Problems with dates are discussed in Appendix 1, in which we cite Orton and Dieth 1951 to the effect that these tests were carried out in the summer of 1950, and that by 1952 Orton had somehow pushed his dates a year to the left. Wright discusses selecting the sites in a recorded interview of 22.12.1989 cas Ia. It is mentioned in Orton 1960, p. 338 and Orton 1962a, pp. 9-10. Taking the information in footnote 68 above into account, it seems clear that much of Wright's attention between the start of the academic year of 1949-50 and the late Spring/early Summer of 1950 would have been taken up in the selection of sites.


The process of selecting sites is described by Harold Orton in the script for his BBC broadcast "A New Survey of English Dialects" (BBC WAC Talks Scripts: ORR-OTT Film T387), p.8 - in a passage which was apparently edited out before the broadcast itself: "due regard must be paid, above all, to the geographical conditions, to the occupational activities of the communities concerned, to the distances between the various localities, and to the population figures of the past century. So far we have made only a provisional study of the problems involved and our solution is only tentative. Thus we examine the map, and the population statistics, when available, for the last hundred years. We study the contours and rivers systematically. Following the tributary rivers towards their sources, we provisionally choose, closest to the source, a place that has had a stable population of about 500 or so during the last 100 years. Such a place should surely have a well-marked and consistent dialect. Then, passing down the tributary, we choose yet another place just below the junction of the tributary and the main stream. By selecting two such places it should become unnecessary to investigate more than one place along that particular tributary. But the final decision would be made by the directors of the survey and the field-worker together after a personal reconnaisance on the ground. This method has weaknesses, yet it seems to produce the minimal network."


  1. This was a 1936 Vauxhall 14 hp car (Ellis 1956a, p. 45), described in some detail by Peter Wright in his recorded interview of 22.12.1989 cas Ia: "One day in the University, Harold Orton came and said `Oh petrol is off the ration, we can buy something now for fieldworkers to, to go, buy a car. And they, the University, shortly afterwards, set its eyes on a jeep. And it may have been a very good idea, but I was, the jeep they were going to buy for the Survey, I don't know much about cars, I don't know its age or anything like that, but when we saw it, it was in some garage in Leeds, looked very very broken down, very poor specimen. But the University said that they would have it properly repaired and looked after. I didn't care for this jeep. I don't know why, perhaps because I - it looked foreign - I didn't feel very happy about this jeep, and simultaneously my uncle told me that there was a Vauxhall 14 at home which had hardly ever been used. It had belonged to a skipper who used it only for going to and from his club, a couple of miles in Fleetwood, so it was thought to be - to me anyway - quite a good buy. So I said this to Harold Orton, and he liked the idea, but of course he had to get University approval to buy the Vauxhall 14. So he came by train with me through Manchester up to Fleetwood - you could then go by rail all the way up to Fleetwood - and we had a trial run in the Vauxhall 14 and agreed to buy it, for I think it was £300. When we got it back, I suppose I must have driven it back to Leeds, the University wanted to check the finances. They insisted on it being seen by the AA and they gave it a check, and they found to my surprise that it wasn't the great bargain that I'd been told, but it was worth, according to the AA, it was worth about £250. But Professor Orton said `That's really neither here nor there, that's all right.'


So that was the Vauxhall 14, the dialect car that was used for so many years - But during the time I had it, I think nearly every - most of the parts on it needed replacing or repairing. Of course it had some heavy driving and perhaps I was responsible for a lot of that. But I thought - `Well, there is one part that is intact, and that is the windscreen.' And shortly after that even the windscreen broke."


Ellis 1956a, pp. 46-47 wrote that by 1953 the aging Vauxhall "was proving unequal to the task of towing us [lie and his wife lived in a caravan, from which he conducted his fieldwork] in and out of fields that were even only slightly wet, and accordingly from the end of September onwards it was necessary to ask our farmer hosts to pull our outfit in and out with a tractor. The University authorities were sympathetically aware of our difficulties and the purchase of another car became a serious consideration. By the spring of 1954 it was obvious that the cost of repairs would in future be heavier and too uneconomical. Consequently a Land-Rover, cheaper than a car since it carried no Purchase Tax, less comfortable for ordinary riding than a car, but eminently suited to towing and rough country work, was bought in 1954 and from then onwards the day of hauling the caravan from one village to another ceased to be nerve-wracking. Thanks to the power of the Land-Rover's many gears we could now successfully tackle any hill, and almost any field whatever."


The significance of transport to the conduct of the fieldwork should not be underrated. John Lloyd Bailes commented as early as 1948, after fieldwork in which he had had to rely on public transport, hitch-hiking and walking: "the work would be much simpler from the practical point of view if the FW could be provided with a car. ..A car would make rapid shifts of position practicable, resulting in a great saving of time, it would make a comfortable and dry headquarters for writing up notes and the weather need have much less effect on the work" (Bailes 1948a, p. 71). Sykes 1956, p. 48 said of the Departmental motorcycle: "This means of transport is invaluable for it makes the fieldworker independent of public transport services, which are very often nonexistent in country districts."


Transport also provided a narrative thread within the culture of the Department and Survey. Others who write of the motorbike are Fritz Rohrer 1950, p. 31; Hutchings 1952, p. iii; Williams 1954, p. 7; Ellis 1952a, p. x; Barry 1960, p. 70; and David Parry in his fieldwork narrative published above.


  1. Orton and Dieth 1951, p. 65. See our Introduction for discussion of dates.


  1. Orton and Dieth 1952.


  1. Peter Wright 1954, p. 1.


  1. Orton 1960.


  1. Orton 1962a, p. 10; Berntsen 1962, p. iv; see David Parry's fieldwork narrative.


  1. Orton 1962a, p. 10; Orton 1963, p. 8 fn.


  1. Letter, .John Widdowson to Roy .Judge 30.4.1991. Basic Material Vol. 2 Part 1, p. 31 gives the dates of recording as 16-19 .June 1962. In a letter of 28.5.1991 Peter Wright notes that this was "the very last place I recorded as a research assistant fieldworker for Leeds," and that recording took place in 195.2.


  1. Orton, Sanderson and Widdowson 1978, third page of Introduction; "List of Localities". Francis 1983 refers, even more confusingly, to 314 sites: e.g., p. 26.


  1. UL/OR Letter from Harold Orton to I:P Pickering 11.12.1946.


  1. Stanley Ellis 1953, p. 19: The Leeds machine, "one of the most up-to-date tape-recorders ... is in two boxes weighing some forty pounds each..."


  1. Recording studios: As stated in the text, the recording of dialect gramophone records was a major part of Orton's Survey of Northumbrian Dialect - See Orton 1929 and 1930. In BBC WAC Talks:Harold Orton, Orton says in a letter to Miss Field dated 10.10.1938 of a Westmorland dialect recording: "It was made in our laboratory here." It is clear that he also made field recordings: From his letter to Miss Field of 17.1.1939: "The speaker is a bed-ridden woman, subject (amongst other things) to bronchitis and pneumonia - hence the cracked voice - and the record was made in her bed-room, the mike placed upon the bed 3 ft. from her mouth."


Stanley Ellis 1952a, p. 567, speaks of "the terrifying modernity of a recording studio, with its shining metal and plastic, the sound-reflector boards, and the flashing lights."


Many informants were, in any event, too frail to be moved from their homes. See Jan Whittaker's fieldwork narrative published above.


Recording vans: UL/OR: In a letter of 10.12.1946 to Harold Orton, EP Pickering suggested a survey using 10 recording vans, saying it would be easier to raise several million pounds than several hundred thousand. The latter itself proved impracticable, much less the former.


  1. Ellis 1974b, p. 37; see footnote 95, below.


  1. Ellis 1974h, p. 37: "Our first recorder was a Simon Mark I." Orton 1962a, p. 19: "Mr. Peter Wright took a tape-recorder with him during an experimental visit to certain localities in the Home Counties, but the records made were technically of inferior quality. The same machine had been used by Mr. Ellis for his work in Lincolnshire."


  1. BBC WAC R46/141 Letter Harold Orton to Timothy Eckersley 29.11.1951; Henry Ellis to Timothy Eckersley 1.12.1951.


  1. BBC WAC: R46/141 Letter Harold Orton to Timothy Eckersley 4.2.1952.


  1. Ibid.; and Ellis 1952a, p. 574.


  1. BBC WAC R46/141 Letter Harold Orton to Timothy Eckersley 4.2.1952; Ellis 1952a, p. 574.


  1. Ellis 1952a, p. 574.


  1. Orton 1974, p. 7.


  1. Ellis 1952a, p. 574.


  1. Ibid., p. 572.


  1. Ellis 1962c, p. 37.


  1. See footnote 83.


  1. Peter Wright recorded interview 22.12.1989 cas la.


  1. BBC WAC R46/141 Letter Harold Orton to Timothy Eckersley 3.2.1953: "1 only regret that his tape-recordings cannot possibly reach your standard." Orton's long association with the BBC deserves an essay of its own. It began in the 1930s, when he was appointed to the BBC's Advisory Committee on


Spoken English (see BBC WAC R6/196/5-11); involved pre-war and post-war broadcasting (see BBC WAC Talks:Harold Orton); and of course the correspondence and arrangements with the BBC around the Survey's taperecording (BBC WAC R46/141). Ellis 1968a, pp. 2-3 comments on Orton's fondness for the BBC and for relating his experiences with it.


  1. BBC WAC R46/141 Letter Harold Orton to Timothy Eckersley 23.9.1952.


  1. Ibid.


  1. BBC WAC R46/141 Letter Harold Orton to Timothy Eckersley 3.2.1953.


  1. UL/OR Draft accompanying notes: Stanley Ellis, "SF)) Record Anthology"


  1. Ibid.


  1. BBC WAC R46/141 Letter Timothy Eckersley to Harold Orton 23.10.1953.


  1. BBC WAC R46/141 Memo from R.V.A. George (Head of Central Programme Operations) to Head of Programme Contracts of 22.1.1954 and subsequent correspondence.


  1. Orton and Halliday 1963, Part 2, p. 343: "the final decision to make taperecordings at each locality in the network dates only from the early summer of 1953."


  1. Orton 1962a, pp. 31-33 gives the list of sites with a symbol indicating those at which recordings had been made. Manual tallying comes up with 259 sites, or 83.3% of 311.


  1. UL/A O/H English: Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies First Annual Report 1964-1965, p. 9.


  1. Orton and Tilling 1969-71, Part 1, p. 7.


  1. Orton 1962a, p. 19; Orton and Halliday 1963, Part 3, p. 742; Orton and Barry 1969-71, Part 1, p. 7; Gibson 1955, p. iii; Sykes 1956, pp. i-ii, 49; John T Wright 1957, pp. iv, 35, 37; Playford 1957, p. 40; Barry 1960, pp. 63ff. Francis 1983, p. 95, says "My own recordings in Norfolk were made in 1957 with a Magnemite recorder which weighed 20 pounds and had a clock-work tapedrive which had to be wound every five minutes. Batteries supplied the current for the recording. Although to the modern reader with a transistorized recorder weighing one-tenth as much such equipment sounds primitive indeed, it still made excellent records."


  1. Peter Wright recorded interview 22.12.1989 cas 1a.


  1. Ibid.


  1. Ibid.


  1. See, e.g., Ellis 1962c, p. 38: "Dr. Wright gave a considerable amount of time to this after he had left the University's employment..."


  1. Ellis 1953, p. 9.


  1. Orton 1962a, p. 10; University of Leeds Calendar 1957. In a letter of 27.10.1988 Stanley Ellis writes: "I myself would not accept a Fellowship in Dialectology when my appointment as Research Assistant came to an end, there was never provision at Leeds for an established post, so I was interviewed for the teaching post in Eng. Lang. and appointed, but my own teaching, both before and after Harold's retirement, was able to encompass the range of topics that were central: Phonetics, Philology and Dialectology.


  1. Ellis 1952a, p. iii.


  1. Ibid.


  1. Ibid., p. iv.


  1. Ellis 1956a, p. 44; Ellis 1952a, p. iv.


  1. Ellis 1956a, p. 44.


  1. Ellis 1952a, p. xii.


  1. Ellis 1953, pp. 20-21; Ellis 1956a, p. 45. See also footnote 70, above.


  1. Ellis 1951, p. viii.


  1. Ellis 1952a, pp. 564, 568.


  1. Orton 1962a, p. 10.


  1. Orton 1962a, p. 19; Ellis 1974b, p. 37.


  1. Ellis 1962c, p. 38.


  1. Orton 1962a, p. 19.


  1. UL/A O/H English: Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies First Annual Report 1964-65, p. 4.


  1. Francis 1983, p. ix.


  1. The Yorkshire Dialect Society Summer Bulletin 7:August (1960), p. 13, for example, notes that Ellis "has broadcast a series of commentaries on dialect recordings in the B.B.C. series The World of Sound". More recently, in 1989 he was a principal in the BBC4 series "Take a Place Like..." His broadcasting experience is extensive.


  1. Gibson 1955, p. 38.


  1. Ibid., p. 39.


  1. Ibid., p. xxiii.


  1. Sykes 1956, pp. i, ii.


  1. John T Wright 1957, p. 30.


  1. Orton 1962a, p. 10.


  1. Playford 1957, p. ii.


  1. Francis 1983, p. ix.


  1. Orton 1962a, p. 16 fn l.


  1. Berntsen 1962, p. x.


  1. Ellis 1962c, p. 29.


  1. Orton 1960, pp. 338-339.


  1. Orton 1970, p. 81.


  1. Orton 1962a, p. 9; Orton 1970, p. 80.


  1. Orton 1960, pp. 339-340; Orton 1962a, pp. 21-22.


  1. Chambers and Trudgill 1980, p. 22.


  1. Orton and Dieth 1952 was entitled "A Questionnaire for a Linguistic Atlas of England"; see Orton 1949, pp. 30, 32; and Orton 1947, p. 38, in which he says that he and Dieth are working on a questionnaire "for use in compiling a Linguistic Atlas of dialectal English."


  1. Orton 1957, pp. 316-317; Orton 1960, p. 332.


  1. Orton 1970, p. 85.


  1. UL/OR Memo Harold Orton to Stewart F Sanderson, 22.11.1966. Stanley Ellis, in a letter of 27.10.1988, writes that "the idea of the Institute came at the time of Harold's retirement as a way of ensuring the continuity of a base for the publication of the Atlas under an active wing."




Part 2. English Dialect Survey: Descriptive


  1. Orton 1960, p. 332.


  1. Orton 1947, p. 38. 3. Ibid.


  1. Orton 1970, p. 81.


  1. Orton 1960, p. 334.


  1. Ibid., p. 336.


  1. Orton 1963, p. 11.


  1. Problems of morphology and syntax were to be dealt with in Book 8 of the First Version of the Questionnaire. At the time Bailes was writing his thesis, Book 8 was still only in draft form. See Bailes 1948a, pp. i, ii, 2.


  1. Orton 1952b, pp. 8-9.


  1. Orton 1953, p. 277.


  1. Ibid.


  1. Ibid.


  1. As far as we are aware (and we would be interested to know of any) there are no extant copies of either the Second or Third Versions of the Questionnaire.


The earliest published reference to the Conversion question is in Orton and Dieth 1952, second page of Introduction (Orton 1962a, p. 45) the preface to which is dated August 1951. Examples of questions in Orton and Dieth 1951, delivered August 1950, do not include any examples of what was later called the Conversion question (see pp. 64-65), nor is it mentioned. From the published references it could therefore be argued that the Conversion question was not devised until the year between August 1950 and August 1951 (that is, between Versions Three and Four).


In a letter of 27.3.1991, however, Peter Wright says "The conversion question, which arose in question framing by accident, was already appearing in significant numbers in our discussions preparatory to going out with samples of it in the summer 1949 version." (i.e., in Orton's framework, Version 2.)


  1. Bailes 1948a, p. i.


  1. Orton 1960, p. 332.


  1. Orton and Dieth 1952, page one of the Introduction (Orton 1962a, p. 44).


  1. Bailes 1948a, p. ii. In Orton's "Dialectal Project" account book, UL/OR, the entry for August 29, 1947 reads "Paid Miss Langrick for travelling expenses Bubwith to Leeds and return."


  1. Bailes 1948a, Appendix 1, pp. 255-264. The preliminary questionnaire circulated by Orton and Dieth among the members of the Yorkshire Dialect Society was composed of five sections or "Sheets". Sheet 1 was their introduction, which, quoted in full, gives an idea of their approach and thinking in the summer of 1947:



  1. In order to determine how far certain good old words survive in the vernacular today, please state on Sheet 11 whether the words listed there (i) are known to you personally, (ii) are used in your area commonly or rarely, and also (iii) if unknown to you, what word you yourself would use instead.


  1. The value of the questionnaire will obviously depend on how far the questions asked are productive. It is no use, for example, asking for the names of a finger-ring or a bed. A ring is likely to be called a ring everywhere and similarly a bed a bed. These words are what we call nonproductive. But some ideas are expressed differently in different districts, for instance, a cowhouse, which is variously called a byre, a shippon, a mistal or a cow-shed etc. Other remunerative notions would be the names for a girl (viz. lass, lassie, wench, bairn, mower), farmyard (viz. backyard, fold, court, and courtledge). Since for practical reasons a questionnaire must be limited in size we must select the more provocative notions. We would therefore ask you which notions you yourself think would produce a variety of expressions not only in Yorkshire but also in other counties. Please give your answers on Sheet III.


  1. Certain objects are variously named according to function, shape, size and the material of which they are made, e.g., baskets, spades, forks (pitchfork, gripe, hayfork, etc.), string, rope (twine, band, banding, cord), a passage (ginnel, snicket, ginney, alley). Can you mention some objects that are differentiated by name in a similar way? Please name them as indicated on Sheet IV.


Note. There is no need for you to try to indicate the pronunciation correctly. In this case the word matters more than the sound.


  1. Stewart Sanderson 1977, p. 171 fn 9, suggests "The slightly unidiomatic use of the word books for sections must, I think, arise from linguistic interference from Dieth's native German."


  1. Bailes 1948a, p. i, says "by October 5th eight books had been completed, of which four were already in my hands." He also mentions, p. ii, that on "2:10:47 I accompanied Professor Dieth to Ripon..." This suggests that he began his own fieldwork after October 2. It doesn't mean he began fieldwork on October 5: This is a conjecture.


  1. The loss of Orton's papers is discussed in Appendix 1. For the rest, see Bailes 1948a.


  1. A broad-based Survey was in the minds of Orton and Dieth in 1947 - see Orton 1947, p. 38. Bailes 1948a, p. 1, reports that "After due consideration it was decided to attempt to examine by the questionnaire the vocabulary of all occupations would render it too unwieldy for an investigation of which the watch-word must be economy." See also Orton 1952b, p. 7; and p. 10 on which it is said, "we consider that recordings should be made in at least 500 places in England alone." Orton 1953, p. 274, said that "for an entirely satisfactory survey, and one that should include towns and cities, this number [of 300 localities] would have to be raised to something like 500."


  1. Orton 1949, p. 32. Bailes 1948a, p. 1, refers to "the core of linguistic conservatism, Husbandry and I Household".


  1. Orton 1952b, p. 7.


  1. Orton 1953, p. 274; Orton 1952b, p. 10.


  1. Bailes 1948, p. 4.


  1. Ibid., pp. 2-3.


  1. Ibid., pp. 2, ii.


  1. For flexibility of use see, for example, Ellis 1952a, pp. 556, 558; John T Wright 1957, p. 31; Barry 1960, p. 60.


  1. Orton and Dieth 1952, first page of the Introduction (Orton 1962a, p. 44). See Part 1, footnote 60.


  1. Wright and Rohrer 1968, p. 7. That this would be Wright's first impression of Dieth is indicated by the fact that Rohrer was Dieth's assistant from Zurich, and would have had earlier first impressions. This impression, by the way, echoes Bailes' report that Orton and Dieth "first searched through Volume One of Wright's Dialect Dictionary to discover productive notions..." He goes on to say, however, that this "proved too laborious, and halfway through words beginning with `b' the method was abandoned." (Bailes 1948, p. i).


  1. Wright and Rohrer 1968, p. 7.


  1. Ellis 1968a, p. 3.


  1. Peter Wright recorded interview 22.12.1989 cas la.


  1. Peter Wright, in a letter of 15.3.1991, says "before we embarked on the 1949 tour of the 6 guinea-pig counties, the four of us tested the body and housekeeping parts of the q'aire at Triangle near Halifax (travelling by bus) with the help of a dialect poet there who was, I think, a YD.S. member." In a letter of 11.2.1990 he mentions "two preparatory trips we all made just at that time to see and have tea with" this dialect poet.


  1. Peter Wright recorded interview 22.12.1989 cas la.


  1. See Part 1, footnote 66 above.


  1. Peter Wright recorded interview 22.12.1989 cas la.


  1. Orton 1947, p. 37. In a letter of 11.2.1990 Peter Wright notes: "Our local contact was a lady lecturer whom Harold knew of Nottingham University who lived in the village and her commuting capabilities, which would perhaps raise no eyebrows now, quite astonished me. Eugen Dieth and I lodged in quite a primitive establishment very near Tideswell church, "capital of the Peak" as it is called. Then very early one morning I was despatched by taxi to Bakewell, then bus to Ashbourne, then bus to Derby and thence by train to Exeter as advance party to prepare the Cullompton-area visit by calling first on my relatives at their farm near Hele. The others followed a day later. Perhaps they were taken by that lecturer by car to Kniveton and then took a bus to Derby and then the train."


  1. Peter Wright recorded interview 22.12.1989 cas la.


  1. Ibid.: "Once all the team of us called in at Solihull, at Harold Orton's brother-in-law who was the Chief Education officer there..."


  1. Wright and Rohrer 1968, p. 8.


  1. Ibid., and Peter Wright recorded interview 22.12.1989 cas 1a.


  1. Wright and Rohrer 1968, p. 10.


  1. Orton 1952b, p. 8.


  1. Ibid.


  1. Orton and Dieth 1952, page one of the Introduction (Orton 1962a, p. 44).


  1. Orton and Dieth 1951, p. 65. "For my experimental travels to the NorthEast and what is now Cumbria," writes Peter Wright in a letter of 15.3.1991, "1 went first to Newbiggin, where Harold Orton had made good friends of the fisherfolk, later for a fortnight in cold snowy weather to Wooler and then Bellingham, and then around a spring holiday, Easter or Whit, to Kirby Stephen, Ambleside and then Keswick; but always by bus. The Wooler and Bellingham visits may have been around the time the dialect car was becoming a possibility because I had just joined the Y.H.A. (which I never used) and, when my bus broke down in far sight of Hexham on the return from Bellingham, I remember wondering whether I could have parked such a car out of sight before staying at Bellingham Y.H.A. (This was when motorists were forbidden by Y.H.A. rules to use such places). Lack of a car also meant much being jogged on the top deck of a poor bus as it approached the Windermere area and getting horribly splashed walking from my base in a pub at Ashington to Newbiggin, where I had to be dried out before a fisherman's family in front of a blazing coal fire."


  1. Orton and Dieth 1951, p. 65. This is the only published reference of which we are aware to there having been a version of the Questionnaire in which there were ten Books. Orton goes on to say that nine of the books "have been recently used by half-a-dozen pupils and colleagues of Angus McIntosh in experimental fieldwork in different parts of Scotland."


Peter Wright writes in a letter of 15.3.1991: "1 can confirm that there were originally 10 books in the questionnaire drafts, later reduced to 9." In a letter of 27.3.1991 he adds: "I believe our 1949 q'aire had 9 books. The next version had 10 and so did the next [this would be Versions 3 and 4 in Orton's framework] ..The 10th book was chiefly to find a home for the bulk of the grammatical questions. It was feared that if they were spread evenly throughout the q'aire, they might puzzle or even irritate some informants, whereas we could select in each place our most intelligent informant and ask him as part of his good offices to answer book 10. The system worked quite well. I don't know about other fieldworkers, but because of my grammatical interests I found book 10 just as interesting and easy to have answered as the rest."


  1. Orton and Dieth 1952, page one of Introduction (Orton 1962a, p. 44).


  1. Peter Wright 1954, p. 1.


  1. The Preface to Orton and Dieth 1952, the Questionnaire, is dated 9th August 1951; see Orton 1962a, p. 43.


  1. Orton 1952b, p. 6; Orton 1960, p. 332.


  1. E.g., VII.3.18. Even this cut-off was probably more conditioned by Dieth's death in 1956 and Orton's desire that all changes should have been discussed with him than by any end to the thinking about and re-evaluation of the Questionnaire.


  1. Orton 1962a, pp. 14-15.


  1. Chambers and Trudgill 1980, p. 25, regard these as subtypes of two basic types - Naming and Completing. Orton, in Orton and Dieth 1951, p. 64, referred to three types - Naming, Completing and Talking. By the time of Orton and Dieth 1952 (Orton 1962a, p. 45) they were referring to naming, completing, conversion, talking, and reverse questions.


  1. Orton 1960, p. 334.


  1. Orton 1952b, p. 8.


  1. Orton 1960, p. 335.


  1. Orton and Dieth 1951, p. 64.


  1. Orton 1952b, p. 9.


  1. Ibid.


  1. Orton and Dieth 1952, page 2 of Introduction (Orton 1962a, p. 45).


  1. Ibid. Also Orton 1952b, p. 9.


  1. Ibid.


  1. Orton 1960, p. 335.


  1. Ellis 1952a, p. 559, reported that it took him a minimum of 22 hours to administer. Gibson 1955, p. 34, reported an average time of 15 hours, never taking more than 24. Playford 1957, p. 39, reported that "with careful informants who are determined not to omit the smallest detail it may take as much as twenty-six hours questioning time."


  1. John T Wright 1957, p. 31.


  1. Ibid.


  1. Barry 1960, p. 60.


  1. Peter Wright recorded interview 22.12.1989. John T Wright 1957, p. 31.


  1. Orton 1953, p. 277.


  1. Ellis 1952, p. 557.


  1. Orton 1952b, p. 7.


  1. See, for example, Orton 1962a, pp. 14-15; Orton 1970, pp. 82-83; and, by implication, Orton 1974, p. 7.


  1. In 1976 Eric Partridge told how a section of the Questionnaire was read out to a group of students at Keele College in "about 1948": "The students were, to a man and a woman, derisive; they felt almost embarrassed by the naivety of the way in which the questions were framed", while "I thought that the farmers, necessarily shrewd, would be `tickled pink', and find it difficult to take such childishness at all seriously and that their kindly, buxom, if anything shrewder wives would at first refuse to participate in such foolishness". (Partridge 1976).


  1. SAWD Sheet 5:Easter (1975) (issued by the Survey of Anglo-Welsh Dialects, Dept. of English Language and Literature, University College, Swansea), p. 1: "It is because the Editor of the Survey of Anglo-Welsh Dialects was privileged to be a pupil of Professor Orton that the Survey of Anglo-Welsh Dialects exists at all."


In G.B. Adams, MY. Barry and PM. 'Tilling, "A Tape-Recorded Survey of Hiberno-English" (1976), two of the three authors had worked under Orton - Barry as a fieldworker and editor, Tilling as an editor who also made taperecordings. The influence of Orton and the English Dialect Survey are fully acknowledged on pages i and ii. Sixty-one questions, sometimes with modifications, were taken from the Questionnaire, and like it were "arranged thematically in order to facilitate the process of the interview." With Orton's advice, "on the basis of his experience with 'The Survey of English Dialects", the answers to their questionnaire were fully tape-recorded.


The Survey of Cornish Dialects "was operated with a reduced form of the Leeds standard Questionnaire" (because of limited time and resources), and was carried out by two graduates of Leeds (North and Sharpe 1980).


Peter Wright has gone on to conduct a number of EDS-based surveys (for one of the more recent of which, see Peter Wright, "The Dialect of English Secondary Schoolchildren" in The History and the Dialects of English: festschrift for Eduard Kolb, ed. by Andreas Fischer; Carl WinterUniversitatsverlag, Heidelberg, 1989, pp. 231-243) as has Stanley Ellis and one of Orton's postgraduates, who later founded the Centre for English Cultural Tradition and Language in the University of Sheffield, John Widdowson. Perhaps this, and the discussion in our Introduction, will be enough to suggest something of the impact of the English Dialect Survey on 20th century dialect and folklife studies.


  1. Theses in which the Questionnaire was used in the research: See, for example. W.E. Jones 1949; Syddall 1950; Young 1950; Walker 1952; Whittaker 1954. Thesis which deals with problems of Survey material: England 1955.


  1. Dean 1953, p. xxxvi.


  1. See, for example, Ian Whittaker's fieldwork narrative; the various undergraduate theses held in the Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies; and PhD. dissertations such as that of Christopher Dean 1953 which developed from a remark Orton made during a class exercise, and came to incorporate material recently collected for the Linguistic Atlas of England (p.i). A suggestion to Maureen Courtenay 1955, p. 1, led her to compile a study of a living town dialect "and so contribute to his task of compiling the Linguistic Atlas of England".


  1. Orton 1929, p. 132: "we are looking forward eagerly to a not distant future when some of the students of the Department will be fully qualified to undertake the scientific exploration of the vernaculars of both Northumberland and Durham, or for that matter, of any other county in the Kingdom. The organisation of such a school of dialectologists would be an event without parallel in this country."


  1. Orton 1952b, p. 10.


  1. Ibid. See also Harold Orton, "A New Survey of English Dialects", p. 8 of script, broadcast by the BBC on 5.10.1950: BBC WAC Talks:Scripts ORR-OTT


  1. See UL/OR Letter from EP Pickering to Harold Orton of 10.12.1946. In Pickering's suggested £2-3 million scheme, philologists could send "500 trained students into the field to make rapid surveys"; quite apart from the ten recording vans with teams, which lie suggested could do the recording work in three years.


  1. Orton 1962a, p. 16 fn I says that "All the English fieldworkers had been fortunate enough to receive instruction in phonetics from Mr. P.A.D. MacCarthy." There were nine fieldworkers, two of whom were American, but there were also two additional contributors - Marie Haslam, who was an undergraduate in Orton's Department, and David Parry, who came to Leeds from Sheffield as a postgraduate. At least seven of the collectors were therefore trained by MacCarthy, and Marie Haslam almost certainly was as well.


It might be useful to note here the comment from Shimmin's 1954 history of the University of Leeds, p. 127, that Harold Orton "is a keen philologist and phonetician who is making a special study of dialect. The department of phonetics under Mr. P.A.D. MacCarthy is a valuable outcome of Orton's interest in the subject and is proving of great assistance to the language department."


  1. Ellis 1962a, p. 7.


  1. Orton 1953, p. 276.


  1. Information: John T Wright 1957, pp. 40-41; Ellis 1953, p. 15. Master/pupil: Orton 1962a, p. 17; Orton 1970, p. 82.


  1. Ellis 1976, pp. 94-95: "...the limitations on an informant were so strict that in the 1950's fieldworkers working to these parameters were almost always using as their informants all of those in a given locality who conformed to the criteria." Ellis 1953, p. 13: "If, finally, the fieldworker is able to select from the village a total of more than three wholly suitable people, lie is rather lucky."


  1. The mistaken-identification motif is one of many in the rich narrative tradition which flourished among the dialect students and researchers who passed through Leeds.


Fritz Rohrer 1950, p. 33, for example, wrote that "My rather unusual job now and again created some humorous situations, too, as on the occasion when I knocked at the door of a remote farmhouse and tried to explain my mission to a deaf old lady, asking for help. She told me to wait a moment and on returning she pressed a shilling into my hand. Kindly old soul! However, after a good laugh she turned out to be a very useful dialect-speaker who provided me with some excellent words."


Wright and Rohrer 1968, p. 11, wrote of "the time when, after a researcher had asked about snecks, hasps and other door-fastenings, and had gone round the house drawing them, its lady occupant, thinking - not unreasonably - that he would effect a burglary that night, called in the neighbours, who "grilled" him thoroughly before allowing him to depart."


Martyn Wakelin 1977, p. 161 fn 17: "My own most notable experience was being mistaken, while doing field-work in Cornwall, for an escaped convict!"


See also John Waddington-Feather's fieldwork narrative. Syddall 1950, p. iv, reports the difficulties he had until he convinced the local people he was not from a Government Ministry.


  1. Orton 1949, p. 31. See also Dieth 1946, p. 74.


  1. The problem of ridicule, and the need to convince the potential informant of one's sincerity, appears again and again not only in the work of the Survey researchers (see Ellis 1953, p. 14; Gibson 1955, p. 36), but in undergraduate researchers' theses as well. See Syddall 1950, pp. iv-v; Groom 1950, pp. x-xi; Young 1950, p. ii.


One of the ways of mitigating the problem was for the researcher to be a dialect speaker. John Waddington-Feather, in a letter of 10.11.1989, wrote "Indeed, Orton said it was almost a pre-requisite..." W.E..Jones 1949, p. iii, for example, reported that he "was further helped by being able to use my own regional dialect for my questions. I am sure this was an advantage..." Francis 1983, p. 81, wrote that Stanley Ellis "found it advantageous on occasion to use his native Yorkshire speech, more to establish an easy rapport with informants than to insure better communication."


  1. Ellis 1953, p. 13.


  1. See, for example, Orton 1953, pp. 275-276.


  1. Ellis 1953, p. 16; Orton 1962a, p. 16.


  1. Ellis 1952a, pp. 560-561; Ellis 1953, p. 15.


  1. Orton 1953, pp. 276-277; Orton 1960, p. 337; Orton 1962a, pp. 16-17.


  1. Orton 1953, p. 276.


  1. Ellis 1952a, p. xv.


  1. Ibid.


  1. Ibid.


  1. See Bailes 1948a, pp. 4-7; the answer-sheet is illustrated on p. 5. Francis 1983, p. 98, gives a sample page from an English Dialect Survey Field Book.


  1. Ellis 1953, p. 17.


  1. Gibson 1955, pp. 33-34.


  1. Dieth, in Orton and Dieth 1951, p. 69.


  1. Ellis 1952a, p. 566.


  1. Orton 1960, p. 338.


  1. Sykes 1956, p. 49. Before the advent of self-powered tape-recorders, the selection of informants to record was "limited to those informants who have electricity in their homes". (Stanley Ellis 1952a, p. 568).


  1. Barry 1960, p. 76.


  1. Ellis 1952a, p. 570.


  1. Ibid.


  1. Ibid.


  1. Ellis 1953, p. 19; Orton 1960, p. 338; Barry 1960, pp. 64-65.


  1. Melchers 1972, p. 31.


  1. Ellis 1974b, p. 37; Orton 1962a, p. 19.


  1. Ellis 1953, p. 21.


  1. Orton 1953, pp. 277-278.


  1. See Ellis 1953, p. 21. In response to our newspaper appeal we had a letter (for example) from a lady who met Donald Sykes when he was training under Stanley Ellis in Cumbria in 1954, and who still corresponds with him; an account of John T Wright's return visit with Stanley Ellis to record Mr. King of Blagdon in 1956 (published here); and a recollection by Mrs. Kilby of Stanley Ellis' visits with her father in Yorkshire.


  1. Orton 1953, p. 278.


  1. Ellis 1953, p. 21.


  1. The experience of fieldwork with the Questionnaire is another of the binding elements in the folk culture of the students and researchers who passed through Leeds.


Gibson 1955, pp. 35-36, wrote: "The use of the Qr demands an optimum of common-sense, tact, patience and perseverance-The rewards in personal relationships and friendships and the training in toleration and understanding of many kinds of people are the immediate benefits which accrue to the individual field-worker as a result of a fairly extensive investigation with the Qr.”


Sykes 1956, p. 48: "No-one except those who have actually used the Questionnaire can appreciate how enervating, both physically and mentally, field-work can be. Yet the field-worker would deem worthwhile any physical hardships, because of the invaluable compensations he gains through personal friendships. e is also taught tolerance and understanding of all sorts and conditions of people, which must be of lasting benefit to him."


Playford 1957, pp. 40-41: "Collecting the material for this survey has been an arduous but pleasant task. Everyone who has used the Questionnaire agrees that the personal benefits accruing to the fieldworker are tremendous. His task demands common sense, tact, patience and tolerance: a greater fund of these, and a deeper understanding of people, as well as the acquisition of many new friends, are his immediate reward."


Clearly, the fieldwork for the Survey using the Questionnaire was difficult and demanding. But it was also a humanising experience, and any attempt to understand the Survey as a social and historical phenomenon must bear this in mind.


  1. Orton 1962a, p. 18.


  1. Ellis 1962c, p. 37.


  1. Melchers 1972, p. 3; UL/OR draft introduction, Stanley Ellis "SED Record Anthology"; Ellis 1974b, p. 38; Orton 1960, p. 339; Orton 1962a, p. 20.


  1. Ellis 1953, pp. 19-20.


  1. Ellis 1962a, p. 7. See also Orton 1960, p. 340 fn 1.


  1. Ellis 1974a, p. 6; Ellis 1968a, pp. 1-2.


  1. Ellis 1974, p. 6.


  1. Ellis 1962c, p. 30.


  1. Ellis 1968a, p. 4.


  1. Sykes 1956, p. iii.


  1. John Waddington-Feather, letter 10.11.1989.




Note: "Dialect and Folk Life Studies at Leeds (1946-1984) III: The Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies", will include a comprehensive bibliography of the works of Stanley Ellis, Anthony Green, Harold Orton and Stewart Sanderson, the main members of the Institute's research and teaching staff. Letters following dates in references for Ellis, Orton and Sanderson in the Bibliography below (e.g. Ellis 1962a, Orton 1952b, Sanderson 1970d) relate to this more complete list.



ADAMS, G.B., MV BARRY, PM. TILLING (1976) A Tape-recorded Survey of Hiberno-English, np.


BAILES, John Lloyd (1948a) A Study in the Living Durham Dialect: A Contribution to An English- Linguistic Atlas, MA, University of Leeds.


(1948b) "A Vocabulary of Marbles", Transactions of the Yorkshire Dialect Society 8:48, pp. 12-23.


(1951) "Field Work in Dialect Study", Journal of the Lancashire Dialect Society 1:December, pp. 11-14.


BARRY, Michael V. (1958) The Phonology of the Dialect of Neston, BA, University of Leeds.


(1960) Studies in the Linguistic Geography of Kent. Surrey and Sussex, MA, University of Leeds.


BERNTSEN, H.N. (1962) Studies in the Linguistic Geography of Essex, MA, University of Leeds.


BOOTH, Valerie (1952) The Phonology of the Dialect of Tideswell (Derbyshire), BA, University of Leeds.


CHAMBERS, J.K. and Peter TRUDGILL (1980) Dialectology Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.


COURTENAY, Maureen R. (1955) The Living Dialect of Leeds in the West Riding of Yorkshire, BA, University of Leeds.


DEAN, Christopher (1953) Studies in the Historical Phonology of the Yorkshire Dialects, PhD., University of Leeds.


DIETH, Eugen (1946) "A New Survey of English Dialects", Essays and Studies 32, pp. 74-104.


(1955) "Hips: A Geographical Contribution to the `she' Puzzle", English Studies 36, pp. 14-27.


DOYLE-DAVIDSON, W.A.G. (1964) "Emeritus Professor Harold Orton", the University of Leeds Review 9:2, pp. 162-172.


ELLIS, Stanley (1951) The Living Dialect of Kettlewell, BA, University of Leeds.


(1952a) A Study of the Living Dialects of Lincolnshire Based on an Investigation by questionnaire, MA, University of Leeds.


(1953) "Fieldwork for a Dialect Atlas of England", Transactions of the Yorkshire Dialect Society 9:53, pp. 9-21.


(1956a) "Dialect-Hunting By Caravan", The University of Leeds Review 5:1, pp. 39-48.


(1956b) "Mechanical Recordings for the Linguistic Atlas of England", in Bulletin No. 1, British Institute of Recorded Sound.


(1962a) "Description of a National Dialect Survey", Journal of the Lakeland Dialect Society no. 24, pp. 5-15.


(1962c) "Dialectal English and the Scholar", Transactions of the Yorkshire Dialect Society 2:62, pp. 28-38.


(1968a) "Harold Orton: A Biographical Note", Leeds Studies in English NS 2, pp. 1-5.


(1971) Tape Recording of Local Dialect, published for the Standing Conference for Local History by the National Council of Social Service, London.


(1974a) "Wilfrid J. Halliday - A Memoir", Transactions of the Yorkshire Dialect Society 13:74, pp. 5-7.


(1974b) "The Survey of English Dialects and Social History", Oral History 2:2, pp. 37-43.


(1975) "Harold Orton: A Memoir", Transactions of the Yorkshire Dialect Society 13:75, pp. 4-7.


(1976) "Regional, Social and Economic Influences on Speech: Leeds University Studies", in W Viereck, ed., Sprachliches Handeln-Soziales Verhalten, Fink, Munich, pp. 93-103.


(1983) "Stewart F Sanderson", The University of Leeds Review 26, pp. 234-6.


ENGLAND, Christine R. (1955) The Living Dialects of Oxfordshire, BA, University of Leeds.


FEATHER, John T (1954) The Terminology of Walling in Craven, BA, University of Leeds.


FRANCIS, W. Nelson (1959a) "Collecting Broad Norfolk", East Anglian Magazine, February, pp. 216-220.


(1959b) "Some Dialect Isoglosses in England", American Speech 34:4, pp. 243-250.


(1983) Dialectology, Longman, London and New York.


GIBSON, Peter H. (1955) Studies in the Linguistic Geography of Staffordshire, MA, University of Leeds.


GROOM, R. (1950) The Phonology of the Dialect of Biddulph Moor (Staffordshire), BA, University of Leeds.


HAMELEERS, Harald and Nico JONG (1983) Vowel Pronunciation in the Yorkshire Dales, University of Leeds/ Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht, Utrecht.


HUTCHINGS, Sheila R. (1952) The Phonology of the Dialect of Fillongley (Warwickshire), BA, University of Leeds.


JONES, WE. (1949) The Dialect of Grindleton (Yorkshire West Riding), BA, University of Leeds.


KIRK, John M., Stewart SANDERSON and John WIDDOWSON, eds. (1985)Studies in Linguistic Geography: The Dialects of English in Britain and Ireland, Croom Helm, London.


LANGRICK, Annie (1948) The Phonology of the Dialect of Bubwith (Yorkshire Fast Riding), BA, University of Leeds.


LUDEKE, H. (1956) "Eugen Dieth'", English Studies 37, p. 168.


MARSHALL, Jean (1955) A Phonological Survey of the Dialects of Durham, BA, University of Leeds.


MELCHERS, Gunnel (1972) Studies in Yorkshire Dialects: Based on Recordings of 13 Dialect Speakers in the West Riding, Stockholm Theses in English 9, Stockholm University.


NORTH, David J. and Adam SHARPE (1980) A Word Geography of Cornwall, Institute of Cornish Studies, Redruth, Cornwall


ORTON, Harold (1929) "Northumberland Dialect Research: First Report", Proceedings of the University of Durham Philosophical Society 8:2, pp. 127-135.


(1930) "The Dialects of Northumberland", Transactions of the Yorkshire Dialect Society 5, pp. 14-25.


(1933) The Phonology of a South Durham Dialect: Descriptive. Historical and Comparative, Kegan Paul, London.


(1947) "Dialectal English and the Student", Transactions of the Yorkshire Dialect Society 7:47, pp. 27-38.


(1949) "The Study of Dialectal English", Leeds Magazine 1, pp. 28-32


(1952b) "A New Survey of Dialectal English", Journal of the Lancashire Dialect Society 2, p. 6.


(1953) "Remarks Upon Field Work for an English Linguistic Atlas of England", English Studies 34, pp. 274-278.


(1957) "Eugen Dieth, 1893-1956. A Memoir", University of Leeds Reporter 5:3 (June), pp. 314-317.


(1960) "An English Dialect Survey: Linguistic Atlas of England", Orbis 9:2, pp. 331-348.


(1962a) Survey of English Dialects. A. Introduction, E.J. Arnold, Leeds.


(1963) "Report on the S.E.D.: Northern Volume", Transactions of the Yorkshire Dialect Society 11:63, pp. 8-13.


(1970) "A Linguistic Atlas of England", Advancement of Science 27:131, pp. 80-96.


(1971a) "L.A.N.E. and L.A.E.: Lexical Links", in Larraine Burghardt, ed., Dialectology: Problems and Persepctives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, pp. 3-37.


(1971b) "Editorial Problems of an English Linguistic Atlas", ibid., pp. 79-115.


ORTON, Harold and MV BARRY eds. (1969-71) Survey of English Dialects. The Basic Material, Volume 2, The West Midland Counties. Parts 1-3, E.J. Arnold, Leeds.


ORTON, Harold and Eugen DIETH (1951) "The New Survey of Dialectal English", English Studies Today: Papers Read at the International Conference of University Professors of English held in Magdalen College. Oxford. August. 1950, ed. C.L. Wrenn and G. Bullough, Oxford, pp. 63-73.


(1952) A Questionnaire for a Linguistic Atlas of England, Leeds; reprinted in a revised form in Orton 1962a.


ORTON, Harold and Wilfrid HALLIDAY, eds. (1963) Survey of English Dialects. The Basic Material. Vol. 1. The Six Northern Counties and the Isle of Man. Parts 1-3, E.J. Arnold, Leeds.


ORTON, Harold and PM. TILLING, eds. (1969-71) Survey of English Dialects. The Basic Material. Vol. 3. The East Midland Counties and East Anglia, Parts 1-3, E.J. Arnold, Leeds.


ORTON, Harold and M.F. WAKELIN, eds. (1967-1968) Survey of English Dialects. The Basic Material. Vol. 4. The Southern Counties. Parts 1-3, E.J. Arnold, Leeds.


ORTON, Harold and Nathalia WRIGHT (1974) A Word Geography of England, Seminar Press, London.


ORTON, Harold, Stewart SANDERSON and J.D.A. WIDDOWSON (1978) The Linguistic Atlas of England, Croom Helm, London.


PARTRIDGE, Eric (1976) "Figures of Speech", Times Literary Supplement, 25 June, p. 779.


PETYT, K.M. (1980) The Study of Dialect: An Introduction to Dialectology, Andre Deutsch, London.


PLAYFORD, Averil H. (1957) Studies in the Linguistic Geography of Leicestershire and Rutland, MA, University of Leeds.


ROHRER, Fritz (1950) "The Border Between the Northern and North-Midland Dialects in Yorkshire", Transactions of the Yorkshire Dialect Society 8:50, pp. 29-37.


SANDERSON, Stewart E (1970d) "The Academic Status of Folklore in Britain", Journal of the Folklore Institute 7:2-3, pp. 101-109.


(1971d) "Towards an Atlas of British Folk Culture: Presidential Address 1971", Folklore 82, pp. 89-98.


(1972c) "Folklore Material in the English Dialect Survey", Folklore 83:2, pp. 89-100.


(1975b) "Harold Orton [obituary]", University of Leeds Review 18, pp. 193-194


(1977) "Language on the Map", University of Leeds Review 20, pp. 160-171.


(1978a) "Obituary: Prof. Mary Williams", Folklore 89:1, pp. 104-105.


(1978b) "Wordmap 1, 2, 3, 4, 5", New Society 45:828-32, pp. 357, 409, 483, 515, 577


SHIMMIN, A.N. (1954) The University of Leeds: The First Half-Century, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.


STRAUMANN, Heinrich and Ernst LEISI (1953) "To Professor Eugen Dieth on his sixtieth birthday Nov. 18, 1953", English Studies 34, pp. 241-3.


STUART, Douglas Kent (1976) Craven Yorkshire Dialect, PhD., Graduate School of Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago.


SYDDALL, Denis (1950) The Phonology of the Dialect of High Coniscliffe, BA, University of Leeds.


SYKES, D.R. (1954) The Dialect of Crosland Hill, near Huddersfield, BA, University of Leeds.


(1956) The Linguistic Geography of Shropshire and Worcestershire: A Phonological Survey, MA, University of Leeds.


TRUDGILL, Peter (1983) Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society, rev. ed., Penguin, London.


UPTON, Clive S. (1977) The Language of the Meat Trade: A Survey of Terms Used by a Select Sample of Butchers in the United Kingdom, PhD., University of Leeds.


VIERECK, Wolfgang (1968), “Guy S. Lowman’s Contribution to British English Dialectology”, Transactions of the Yorkshire Dialect Society 12:68, 32-39


WAKELIN, Martyn (1977) English Dialects. An Introduction, revised edition, the Athlone Press, London (original edition, 1972).


(1985) Discovering English Dialects 3rd edition, Shire Publications, Aylesbury (Buckinghamshire).


WALKER, Brenda M. (1952) The Living Dialect of Walshaw (Lancashire), BA, University of Leeds.


WHITTAKER, Ian B. (1954) The Dialect of Dalby and Glen Maye, BA, University of Leeds


WIDDOWSON, J.D.A. (1966) Pronouncing Glossary of the Dialect of Filey in the East Riding of Yorkshire, MA, University of Leeds.

(1990) "The Eleventh Hour? Monitoring the English Rural Tradition in the 1990s and Beyond" Rural History 1:1, pp. 131-142.


WILLIAMS, Gerald (1954) The Terminology of the Artificial Field Boundary, BA, University of Leeds


WRIGHT, John T (1955) The Phonology of the Dialect of Lisvane (Glamorganshire), BA, University of Leeds.


(1957) Studies in the Linguistic Geography of Somerset, MA, University of Leeds.


WRIGHT, Peter (1949) The Living Dialect of Fleetwood. Lancashire, BA, University of Leeds.


(1954) A Grammar of the Dialect of Fleetwood (Lancashire) Descriptive and Historical, PhD., University of Leeds.


WRIGHT, Peter and Fritz ROHRER (1968) "Early Work for the Survey of English Dialects: The Academic and Human Sides", Leeds Studies in English NS 2, pp. 7-13.


YOUNG, Nell (1950) An Account of the Phonology of the Dialect of Gosforth in the County of Cumberland, BA, University of Leeds.

Appendix 1

A Mistake in Dating:

or, When Did the English Dialect Survey Really Begin?


In a letter to Idris Foster of Jesus College, Oxford, on April 4, 1963 (held in the Orton Room at the University of Leeds), Harold Orton wrote:


I am trying to recall some of the main facts in the history of our Dialect Survey and am finding it rather difficult because of the destruction, by mischance, of my files some four years ago.


The loss of these files in about 1959 has obscured much of the detail of the early history of the English Dialect Survey, and has compounded a mistake in dating which Orton and Dieth made in 1951, which others have picked up and repeated, and which made it possible for Orton himself to mistakenly date the beginnings of the Survey in a significant summary article in 1960. In effect, in reconstructing the history of the Survey, Orton lost the academic year of 1948-1949.

The 1960 article, entitled "An English Dialect Survey: Linguistic Atlas of England" (Orton 1960), was based on information which had appeared in Orton and Dieth's Introduction to the Questionnaire for a Linguistic Atlas of England which was published in 1952, but which was dated August 1951 (Orton and Dieth 1952). It announced the completion of fieldwork for the English Dialect Survey, announced the imminent publication of first results, and described the Survey in some detail. Within this article, Orton made the following significant statements:


With the appointment of my first Research Assistant in July 1948 to undertake the fieldwork, the Survey became an integral part of the researches of the University's Department of English Language and Medieval Literature.




...the second [Version of the Questionnaire was tested], in 1948, at one selected locality in Yorkshire (West Riding), Lancashire, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, Warwickshire and Devon by a team comprising Mr. P Wright, Dr. Fritz Rohrer of Zurich and ourselves [Orton and Dieth]; the third in 1949 by Mr. P Wright in Cumberland, Westmorland and Northumberland; and the fourth was used in 1949-50 by Mr. P Wright for actual field recordings in Yorkshire (all three Ridings).


Several of these dates are easily shown to be wrong.

Peter Wright, the Survey's first Research Assistant, was not appointed in 1948. He did not complete his undergraduate degree until 1949 (Peter Wright 1949) and by his own account, he did not become the Research Assistant for the Survey until July 1949 (Peter Wright 1954, p. ii). This is supported by the fact that the account book for the four-man tour of six counties exists, and is dated 1949 (It is held in the Orton Room at the University of Leeds).

Field recordings for the Survey, using Version 4 of the Questionnaire, did not begin in 1949, but on October 19, 1950 (Peter Wright 1954, p. 1). This is supported not only by Peter Wright's 1954 dissertation, but by correspondence between Harold Orton and the BBC in late 1949 in which he says that because there is neither a car nor a recording machine Wright will not begin serious recording for the Survey until the beginning of 1950 at the earliest (BBC WAC R46/141 Letter Harold Orton to Timothy Eckersley 21.11.1949). In his BBC broadcast of October 5, 1950 ("A New Survey of English Dialects", BBC WAC Talks:Script ORR- OTT Film T387), Harold Orton announced "We shall start recording in Yorkshire this month, and our field-worker will travel round by car."

A car did not become available until May 1950 at the earliest (Wright and Rohrer 1968, p.9), by which time it had been decided to test and revise the Questionnaire once more before beginning serious recording. The version in hand at this time was Version 3.

This contradicts Orton's 1960 statement that Wright tested Version 3 in 1949 in Cumberland, Westmorland and Northumberland, which is presumably based on the statement in the Introduction to the Questionnaire that "V.3 [was tested] by P Wright in Cumberland, Westmorland and Northumberland in 1949/50 [emphasis added]". This date itself is quite possibly half wrong, and wrong precisely in the half (1949) which Orton adopted in 1960. Orton said quite clearly in 1950:


Early this summer [emphasis added] our Questionnaire was tested fairly searchingly at six different places: once in Cumberland, twice in Westmorland, twice in Northumberland, and once in the West Riding. (Orton and Dieth 1951, p. 65)


It is highly unlikely that this could be referring to any other test; and the authority of the remark, though by no means absolute, is strengthened by its relative proximity to the event it is describing. Peter Wright's own recollection (see Part 2 footnote 47) "Though not too exactly dated" (Wright, letter 15.3.1991) places at least three of his six visits to the Spring or early Summer, and therefore necessarily of 1950.

This gives a rhythm of test and revision which is based on the long summer vacation, when both Orton and Dieth would have been freed from their usual academic duties to attend more closely to the Survey. Tests in the summer holiday (August/September) would lead to a revised version in the Autumn (October). This would be tested into the next summer holiday, with the revised version being available by the Autumn.

Starting from scratch in August 1947, Orton and Dieth produced a First Questionnaire which was tested in September and ready (in the main) by October (Bailes 1948a, pp. i,ii). These tests were completed by the summer of 1948, and in the logic of the rhythm, revisions would have led to Version 2 by the summer of 1948, and by the same logic, tests ought to have been carried out on it in August/September and a Third Version produced by October 1948. This ought to have been tested through the summer of 1949, and Version 4 ought to have been ready by October 1949. If recording with Version 4 began as soon as it was ready, then recording for the Survey ought to have begun in 1949. This was the time-table Orton produced in 1960, based on Orton and Dieth 1952.

This was wrong not because of a flaw in the logic - the test/revision rhythm does appear to have been based on the availability of the summer months for Orton and Dieth to work and revise together. It is wrong because whether or not Version 2 was ready by the end of the summer of 1948, Orton had no one available to test it for him. He may have given a copy of Version 2 in 1948 to undergraduate student Bill Jones (W.E. Jones 1949), who was Orton's first choice to become his first Research Assistant in 1949 (Peter Wright, recorded interview 22.12.1989). But in 1948-49 Orton did not have a Research Assistant.

Was this because he didn't have the funds? Or was it because Orton and Dieth needed a year after Bailes' research to get the Questionnaire into a form in which it made sense to go to the expense of hiring someone to test it?

Whatever the reason - and there appears to be no documentation telling us - between the summer of 1948 and the summer of 1949 there was a gap in fieldwork, and possibly in the development of the Questionnaire. By eliminating this gap on paper - by bringing Wright's employment to 1948 (which Orton did consistently from 1951; see Orton 1962a, pp. 9, 16), and by bringing the test and revision of each Version of the Questionnaire into line with this beginning, Orton systematically shifted the dates of the Survey a year to the left, until field-recording which began in 1950 was finally ascribed to 1949. This effectively makes the early history of the Survey appear to run much more smoothly and evenly than it actually did. And it also creates a mystery which wants to be solved: What was going on in the academic year 1948-49?



Appendix 2

Whose Idea Was It?

or, Who Really Shouldered the Chief Burden of the Survey?


The correspondence between Orton and Dieth which is published in The Linguistic Atlas of England (Orton, Sanderson and Widdowson 1978, Introduction, first page and footnote 1) would suggest that the idea for a renewed Survey of English Dialects after World War II was Orton's. In the first letter, Dieth's of 21.7.1945, Dieth says "I hear the idea of a linguistic atlas of England etc. has not been given up ... Will you tell me what steps you have taken so far towards launching the scheme?" According to the editors of the LAE, Dieth offered in a subsequent letter of 19.11.1945 "to visit England and cooperate in the project." Although Dieth would appear from this to have taken the initiative in proposing a cooperative venture, the initiative in relaunching the scheme would appear to have been Orton's.

In Orton 1962a, p. 9, Orton says the Survey "was the outcome of a proposal made to me early in 1946 by my late friend and collaborator, Eugen Dieth..." Stanley Ellis, in Ellis 1962a, p. 6, says - with a slightly different emphasis (and with a mis-dating) - "This Survey of English Dialects was suggested by Professor Eugen Dieth ...He wrote to Harold Orton ... in the summer of 1946 suggesting collaboration on such a work."

The idea that it was Dieth who took the initiative in the creation of the Survey has become widely held. K.M. Petyt, in Petyt 1980, p. 88 says:


In 1946 Eugen Dieth ... drew attention to the fact that Britain was one of the few blanks on a map of Europe showing which countries had published or at least begun work on a linguistic atlas ...Dieth's challenge was accepted: Within a few years work began in the Universities of Leeds and Edinburgh on dialect surveys of England and Scotland ... An old friend of Dieth, Harold Orton, Professor of English Language at Leeds, became his joint-director of the Survey of English Dialects.


and, on p. 90, "Dieth died in 1956, before the publication of any of the findings of the Survey he had called for." [But see Dieth 1955, which Dieth referred to, p. 14, as "the first fruits of our labours on the Linguistic Atlas of England (LA E)."]

The discussion of the role of the Philological Society in the generation of the English Dialect Survey in Part 1 will have shown that Petyt's vision of Dieth as the active principle motivating Britain into post-war dialect surveys is inaccurate. But, quite apart from Orton's statement in 1962a, where would such an idea have come from?

Sever Pop, in Dialectologie: Aperçu historique et Methodes d'enquetes linguistiques volume 2, Louvain, 1950, pp. 912 and 913, while discussing the Philological Society's dialect survey, wrote:


LA NECESSITE ET L'IMPORTANCE D'UN ATLAS LINGUISTIQUE DE LA GRANDE-BRETAGNE. - En 1947 [read 1946], le savant EUGEN DIETH ..a demontre, dans son article A New Survey of English Dialects (public dans Essays and Studies, t. XXXII, 1947 [read 1946], pp. 74-104), l'importance et la necessite de la realisation d'un atlas linguistique de la Grande-Bretagne...


ON A CONFIE AU SAVANT E. DIETH LA DIRECTION DE L'ATLAS. - La Philological Society a confie dans sa seance du fevrier 17, 1950, au savant Suisse EUGEN DIETH, la direction de l'Atlas linguistique de la Grande-Bretagne.


This was, basically, an odd and perhaps even silly mistake. Dieth was not made Director of the English Dialect Survey, he was simply made one of its several Directors (at the instance of Orton, who had been a Director since March/April 1947 - see Part 1; and it was at the meeting of February 10, not February 17 - See UL/OR "Philological Society: Minutes of the Council"(10.2.1950)). But this mistake was compounded three years later in a special edition of English Studies presented to Eugen Dieth on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday (English Studies 34 (1953)). Heinrich Straumann and Ernst Leisi wrote, p. 242:


When after the war, through the help of British scholars and institutions, the scheme began to take shape it soon became evident that Professor Dieth would be the man to shoulder the main responsibility for its realisation. A first plan was presented to the public in his article "A New Survey of English Dialects"...Although it will be years before the completion of the work, the resolute persistency of its chief promoter gives full promise of its success.


It will be seen from our main text how inaccurate a picture this is. It was Dieth, after all, who asked Orton "what steps have you taken..." Having consulted extensively with one another, they both announced the project in 1946 - Orton in a paper to the Yorkshire Dialect Society, "established under the auspices of Professor Joseph Wright to carry on the research work of the English Dialect Society which had become defunct" (Waddington-Feather 1977, p. 13), one of the premier fora in England for such a thing; Dieth in Essays and Studies. It was Orton who negotiated the difficult situation with the Philological Society. It was Orton who successfully applied for financial and practical support from the University of Leeds and to other bodies, and it was his students and assistants who carried out the majority of work in testing the various Questionnaires, and who then carried out the actual investigation.

Orton's own view was made clear in discussions with the BBC in 1949, in which he told them "There was, in the first place, a survey instituted by Leeds University of which Professor Orton is the guiding spirit. Professor Dieth of Zurich has worked in close collaboration with him on this..." (BBC WAC Talks:Harold Orton, Memo from Bob Gregson to Chief Producer, Talks Department, London, 29.12.1949).

If this was Orton's view in 1949, why did he not correct the picture presented by Pop, and by Straumann and Leisi?

The simple answer is that Orton expected Dieth to do this (UL/OR Letters, Orton to Dieth 1955 - a copy of one letter, a draft of another and a reference to a third), and when Dieth died in 1956 he felt bound as a matter of principle - and all accounts make it clear that he was a man of rigid (perhaps too rigid) principle - to let the matter drop. By the same token, as a gesture of his loyalty, and as a tribute to their long friendship and collaboration, he felt bound to retain Dieth's name on the publications of the Survey of English Dialects - despite the fact that by the time the Introduction appeared in 1962 Dieth had been dead for six years, and had had little input into the editorial process.

Dieth, by not correcting the impression which had formed therefore plays a role in the misconception that it was he who was the linchpin in the English Dialect Survey. At best it was a partnership, and that is certainly how Orton preferred to present it after Dieth's death ("He and I planned it together and expected to complete it together..." Orton 1957, p. 314). But it is equally clear from the facts available that whereas without Orton and the University of Leeds there would have been no English Dialect Survey, without Dieth there could, and as events from the early 1950s show (when Dieth turned from working on the Survey to analysing its results) there would have been.

It would certainly have been a very different Survey. It is not quite clear how, again because of the loss of Orton's early files, as referred to in Appendix 1. A suggestion can be made, however. Orton said of himself in Orton 1949, p. 31, "Collecting the raw material, namely the dialectal pronunciations, gives me, personally, the greatest enjoyment". Of Dieth and the Questionnaire he wrote elsewhere: "Preparing it was at all times for him an exciting and challenging task. He brought to it boundless enthusiasm, an extensive knowledge of such things, and wise judgement" (Orton 1962a, p. 9) and "I never ceased to admire the soundness and accuracy of his scientific methods, his capacity for organising material, and his undoubted skill in detecting, in the foreign language in which he was working, defects in the formulation of questions proposed, whether of ambiguity, lack of precision, prolixity, or directness" (Orton 1957, p. 316).

This suggests that without Dieth it might very well have been a survey which was centred more on the fieldworker and his collecting, and perhaps less reliant on the rigor of the Questionnaire than proved to be the case. Certainly Orton shared the SED masthead with Dieth, not simply out of loyalty and friendship but because Dieth was indelibly stamped in every question and in every piece of data from the Questionnaire.

Until there is a fuller, more comprehensive study, and one which can take into account whatever papers of Dieth's which survive, this will remain a clouded area. What seems certain is that Dieth can in no way or at any time be said to have shouldered the chief responsibility for the Survey. When Orton said, as he did in 1957, p. 316, "on his proposal we agreed, early in 1945, to collaborate on a Linguistic Atlas of England" he meant precisely that and no more. The idea for the Atlas and the Survey was there; it was in many minds, and Orton had begun moving in that direction himself after the war. Dieth's first contribution was to propose their collaboration on the project which, on many levels, was already underway.


[Notes/References added after publication of first edition:]


Sanderson 1972c, pp. 93-94:

“The Orton-Dieth Survey was a massive undertaking; and it is only right and proper tribute should here be paid to Profesor Orton himself for the vision, the energy, the scholarship, and the sublime optimism with which he embarked on a voyage which has lasted over twenty-five years and is by no means finished yet. The untimely death of Professor Dieth in 1956 left the whole scholarly burden as well as the administrative one on one pair of shoulders; and though no-one is more generous than Professor Orton in acknowledging the efforts of those who have been involved with him, from fieldworkers to informants and from editorial collaborators to financial benefactors, it should be said unequivocally that the English Dialect Survey and its programme of publication are really the creation of one man, and than man is Harold Orton.”


OR/UL: Harold Orton to Martyn Wakelin, 1.4.1967:

“You may recall that the misinformation about E. Dieth’s alleged appointment to the Directorship of the Philological Society’s (proposed) Linguistic Atlas of England (S. Pop, La Dialectologie II, Louvain, 1952 p. 913) has never been corrected. [The fact is that on my proposal the Ch. of the Phil. Soc. at the meeting in question approved, with the greatest reluctance, E.D.’s appointment as Co-Director with me of their proposed investigations of the North and N. Midl. Regions. Since the Phil. Soc. never proceeded with their proposals, the error has remained uncorrected. ED + I never discussed this point until our last meeting in March 1956 (he died in May), but I never knew who gave Pop this inaccurate report.”



[Page numbers refer to hardcopy first edition]





Caravan 12, 29, 33, 79

ALFORD (Lincolnshire) 23, 41

AMBLESIDE (Cumbria) 89


ARMSTRONG COLLEGE 7, 14, 67, 68,73

ASHBOURNE (Derbyshire) 88

ASHINGTON (Northumberland) 89

ASHMAN, Gordon 8


BAILES, John Lloyd 10, 11, 20-22, 23, 24, 36, 37, 38, 40, 50, 76, 79, 85, 87

BAKEWELL (Derbyshire) 88

BARRY, M.V. (Fieldworker) 12, 13, 31, 44, 51, 61, 91

BELLINGHAM (Northumberland) 89

BENNETT, Gillian 8

BERNTSEN, H.N. (Fieldworker) 13, 32

BISHOP, Julia 8

BLAGDON (Devon) 63

BORLASTON (Staffordshire) 30

BOWMAN, Marion 8

BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION 19, 25, 26, 73, 76, 78, 80, 81-82, 84, 105, 109

Folklore and Dialect Scheme 7

Recording Scheme With English Dialect Survey 26, 33



BUBWITH (Yorkshire) 38, 86

BUILTH WELLS (Radnorshire) 61

BYERS GREEN (Durham) 38



CHIRNSIDE (Berwickshire) 73


COURTENAY, Maureen 92

COX, Ian (BBC) 73

CRACKNELL, Vera 33,62

CRICH (Derbyshire) 15

CROSLAND HILL (Yorkshire) 30

CULLOMPTON (Devon) 23, 41, 88

Cuts in Higher Education 2, 8


DALBY (Isle of Man) 56

DEAN, Christopher 92


DERBY (Derbyshire) 88

DIALECT as Source of Ridicule 48, 52, 93

DICKINS, Bruce 4

DIETH, Eugen 3, 4, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 33, 34, 35, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 53, 66, 70, 75, 86, 87, 88, 104, 106, 107-110

Career 14-15

And Philological Society 10, 18, 108

Relationship with Orton 7, 18, 73, 107-110

Role in Survey 107

Death 3, 12, 35, 107


DIGBY (Lincolnshire) 28

DOUGLAS (Isle of Man) 56

DRAX (Yorkshire) 15, 21

DRY DOCKING (Norfolk) 60




ECKERSLEY, Timothy (BBC) 26, 78


ELLIS, A.J. 3, 21, 55

ELLIS, Henry 26, 53

ELLIS, Stanley 8, Il, 12, 13, 25, 26, 27-29, 30, 31, 33, 44, 47, 48, 49, 50, 52, 54, 63-64, 69, 74, 81, 83, 84, 91, 94, 95, 97,107


See WRIGHT; Joseph


Founded 2

Orton Carries out Exploratory Investigations 10, 15

Orton Addresses Yorkshire Dialect Society 10, 15, 16, 108

Dieth: "A New Survey of English Dialects" 10, 108

Site Selection 24, 78

Number of Sites 24, 87

Recording Begins 3, 11, 105

Promising Students Brought Into 45

Orton and Dieth Divide Work 12, 34-35, 53

Moves Premises 12

Finance 16, 33, 74

Fieldwork Completion 24, 104

Challenged by Sociolinguists 5

Impact of 91

Vs. Survey of English Dialects 33


ENGLISH FOLK LORE SURVEY(University of London) 7

ENTWISTLE, William J. 75

EXETER (Devon) 88


FIELD, Miss (BBC) 80


Experience of 95

Narrative Motifs of 93


Induction and Training 45-47

Dialect Speaking 93

Selection of Localities 47-48

Manual Recording 50-51

Tape Recording 51-52

Completing 52-53

Editing 53

Relationship to Informants 48

FLEETWOOD (Lancashire) 26, 79

FLOWER, R.V. 65-66

FOSTER, ldris 104

FORSTER, J. Mary D. 8

FRANCIS, W. Nelson 12, 29, 31-32, 58-60, 82,94

FULBECK (Lincolnshire) 28




GIBSON, Peter (Fieldworker) 12, 29, 30, 95

GILLINGHAM (Dorset) 65

GLEN MAYE (Isle of Man) 56



GREEN, A.E. 97

GREGORY, Mr. P (Informant) 30


GRINDLETON (Yorkshire) 22

GROVES, Jacqueline 63


HALLIDAY, Wilfrid 45, 53-54

HASLAM, Marie (Contributor) 30, 92

HAWES (Yorkshire) 23, 41, 58

HAWORTH (Yorkshire) 58

HEPTONSTALL (Yorkshire) 56

INFORMANTS 9, 37, 49-50, 52

Criteria 56, 93, 94

"Conditioning" of 52


INSTITUTE OF DIALECT AND FOLKLIFE STUDIES 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 27, 34, 35, 65, 73, 84, 92




JACOBSON, Mrs. C. 66

JEFFARES, A. Norman 13

JONES, A.L. 67

JONES, Daniel 75

JONES, W.E. (Bill) 22, 77, 94, 106


KAY, Ronald 67, 69, 70

KESWICK (Cumbria) 89

KETTLEWELL (Yorkshire) 27, 28, 29

KILBY, Dorothy 95

KING, George 63-64, 95

KING, Win 63-64

KIRBY STEPHEN (Cumbria) 89

KISSACK, Rev. Rex 57

KNIVETON (Derbyshire) 88

KURATH, Hans 18,75




"LAND OF UTCH" 55-56

LANGRICK, Annie 38, 73, 86




Commitment to Regional Studies 3

Recognises E.D.S 45-46

Gives Financial Support 10, 20, 21, 23, 25, 33, 109

Home of E.D.S. 16, 19, 20,109

Department of Phonetics 11, 26, 46, 53, 92

Extra-Mural Department 53


LEISI, Ernst 108,109



LINGUISTIC ATLAS OF ENGLAND 24, 30, 32, 34, 35, 67, 84, 92, 110








LISVANE (Glamorgan) 31

LLOYD, Jean F 67

LOWMAN, Guy S. 21

LUDHAM (Norfolk) 60

LYONSHALL (Herefordshire) 24


MacCARTHY, P.A.D. 11, 46, 61, 92


Studio Recording 24, 29, 80, 81

Recording Vans 24, 81, 92

Portable Recording 24-25, 29, 80, 81, 94

Gramophone/Disc Recording 24, 53, 54, 66

See also: TAPE-RECORDING MALDON (Essex) 61



MARRIOTT (Dorset) 55

MARSHSIDE (Lancashire) 23, 41, 66

McINTOSH, Angus 89

MELCHERS, Gunnel 51, 65



MILNE, William P 75

MITCHELL, Dorothy C. 67, 68


"More English than the Oxford Dictionary"66

MOREBATTLE (Roxburghshire) 73

MUKER (Yorkshire) 55


NESTON (Cheshire) 32

NEWBIGGIN (Northumberland) 89


NEWPORT (Monmouthshire) 24, 62

NORWICH (Norfolk) 59


ORR, John 74

ORTON, Harold 65-71, 107-110

Career 5, 10, 14-15, 67, 73

And the B.B.C. 76, 78, 81-82

And Philological Society 10, 74, 75

Lost Files 12, 38, 87, 104, 109

Creates School of Dialectology 45-47, 92

Retirement 13, 84

Impact on English Folk/Dialect Studies 2-3, 5, 84, 91


ORTON ROOM 3, 72, 77

OUT WELL (Norfolk) 60


PALMER, L.R. 16, 74, 75

PARRY, David (Contributor) 24, 32, 61-63, 92


PETYT, K.M. 107

PHILOLOGICAL SOCIETY 10, 11, 16-20, 22, 23, 39, 74, 75, 107, 108

PICKERING, F.P. 74, 75, 80, 81, 92


PLAYFORD, Averil (Fieldworker) 12, 29, 31, 95

POP Sever 108, 109

POWELL, Sue 67, T0


QUAYLE, Mrs. (Informant) 57

QUESTIONNAIRE 3, 34, 36-45, 89,109

Version One 10, 20, 22, 36, 38-40, 85,106

Version Two 11, 23, 36, 38, 40-42, 77, 85

1949 Test 11, 23, 27, 41-42, 66, 70, 104

Version Three11, 24, 42, 85

1950 Test 24, 78, 104, 105

Version Four 11, 24, 28, 42, 105

Version Five 11, 28, 42

Version Six 42-43

Dating of 104-106

Framing of Questions 23, 36-37,

Types of Questions 37-38, 43,

Number of Books 89

Administering Time 43, 90

Recording 50-51

Recording Books 53

Editing 53

Problems 45


RATCLIFFE, Dorothy Una (Mrs. McGrigor-Phillips) 33

RATIONING 21, 24, 28, 31, 79


REEDHAM (Norfolk) 60

RIPON (Yorkshire) 87

ROBINSON, Mr. (Informant) 58

ROHRER, Fritz 23, 27, 40, 41, 66, 70, 87, 93, 104

ROUD, Steve 8



SAINT, Mr. W. (Informant) 63

SANDERSON, Stewart E 13, 84,

SCOTTON (Yorkshire) 25

SHANKS, Thomas 68

SHEFFIELD (Yorkshire) 15


SHIPLEY, Mr. (Informant) 21

SHIPPEY, Tom 8, 114, 115

SHORTLAND, Mr. (Informant) 50

SILSDEN (Yorkshire) 58

SIPORIN, Rae Lee 26

SKELMANTHORPE (Yorkshire) 25

SOLIHULL 23, 41, 88


SPOFFORTH (Yorkshire) 24, 42

STEAD, Audrey 8

STRAUMANN (Heinrich) 108, 109


SUGHRUE, Cindy 8



SURVEY OF ENGLISH DIALECTS (publication project) 2, 4, 5, 8, 13, 33-35, 107




SWINSTEAD (Lincolnshire) 51


SYDDALL, Denis 93

SYKES, Donald (fieldworker) 12, 29, 30-31, 62, 80, 95



TAPE-RECORDING 24-26,51-52,15,27, 46, 56-57, 70-71

First Experiments 11, 25

Begun 3, 26, 82

Completed 26

Proposed Publication 34

As Verification 47, 55

Equipment 12, 24, 25-26, 32, 78, 80, 82

TEALBY (Lincolnshire) 44


TIDES WELL (Derbyshire) 15, 23, 41, 88

TILLING, Philip M. (co-editor) 26, 91

TRANSPORT 24, 29, 79-80

Problems 26, 38

Dialect Car 11, 33, 78, 78-79,105

Motor-bike 33, 61, 80


TRIANGLE (Yorkshire) 88


UMPLEBY, Stanley 21



VIERECK, Wolfgang 5


WADDINGTON-FEATHER, John 54, 58, 68, 69, 70, 93

WAKELIN, Martyn 13, 93

WESTON (Somerset) 31

WETTSTEIN, Paul 22,73

WHEATHAMPSTEAD (Hertfordshire) 30

WHITTAKER, Ian 45,56-58, 67-68, 81, 92

WIDDOWSON, John D.A. 8, 80, 91

WILLOUGHTON (Lincolnshire) 51

WILNECOTE (Warwickshire) 30

WINCANTON (Somerset) 65

WINDERMERE (Cumbria) 89


WOOLER (Northumberland) 89

WRENN, C.L. (Chairman of Philological Society) 74, 75

WRIGHT, John T (Fieldworker) 12, 29, 31, 43-44, 63-64, 95

WRIGHT, Joseph 3, 40, 62, 87, 108

WRIGHT, Peter (Fieldworker) 8, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26-27, 28, 29, 36, 39, 40, 41, 55-56, 66, 70, 76, 77, 78-79, 80, 81, 83, 85, 87, 88, 89, 91, 104, 105, 106

Appointed First Research Assistant 11

Selects Sites 11, 27, 47, 48

Experimental Tape-Recording 25, 81

Tests Version Three of Questionnaire 11, 42

First Manual Recordings 11, 24, 42


YEOVIL (Dorset) 55


YORKSHIRE DIALECT SOCIETY 4, 10, 15, 16, 38, 53-54, 86, 88,108




ZAI (Dieth's student) 73

ZEALS (Wiltshire) 65


Dialect Records Archive 15

Phonetics Laboratory 15